After resisting as long as possible, I finally visited the local food pantry. The experience was of course humbling and trying. I had to wait for 45 minutes or so and passed the time helping a woman practice her crochet stitches. There were a number of other nice women I spoke with, all offering hints and the names of other pantries to a first timer like myself. I was the best dressed person there having decided I would wear work clothes to present a positive image about myself. I held it together fairly well until entering the warehouse type room where I would select my food. It was then that I burst into tears all the while thinking I would never have thought that things would come to this.
Here is a list of the items I received. All in all disappointing. Not much selection and the fresh fruit and vegetables were moldy. I actually felt nauseous, even for some hours after getting home (just the whole experience and the poor quality of food).
Family size box of low fat Triscuits; 14 oz. box Corn CHEX cereal; 32 oz. spaghetti; tuna noodle dinner mix (off brand - never heard of it); 7.25 oz. KRAFT mac & cheese; 16 oz. bag long grain white rice; frozen slices of garlic bread (looked like from a restuarant); loaf of Butternut honey wheat bread expiration 1/24; Trader Joe's wheat hot dog buns expiration 1/22); Trader Joe's uncut loaf of crusty bread expiraton not marked; Trader Joe's Everything bagels expiration 1/21; Voortman Chunky Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies expiration 10/24/08.
Canned Goods (unless noted all cans are off brands):
Large can orange juice; tuna in water; 1 can diet soda (yes only one can); 2 cans unsweetened applesauce (unsweetened doesn't go over too well in our house even with me); 2 cans Green Giant cut green beans; 1 can corn; can sliced pickled beets; 1 small can tomato sauce; can tomatoes for chili; jar turkey gravy; can of cream of chicken soup; can of vegetable soup; can of pure pumpkin; can peaches; can pears; grape jelly (you could take a jar of peanut butter or jelly but not both).
1 apple (we were told to only take one); 3 bananas (again told I could have three); 1 bag carrots, 10 red potatoes.
Trader Joe's salmi & cheese tray expiration 1/21; frozen package of turkey lunchmeat with 11/08 expiration.
1 roll t.p.
2 peanut granola bars
You are allowed to visit this panty once a month. Obviously no one could live for a month on the items received today. In fact, except for the can of tuna and box of tuna noodle helper, there wasn't anything that would comprise an entire meal. No spaghetti sauce to go with the spaghetti, etc. Actually what is making me feel the most ill is the prospect of eating food I don't know where is from or how soon it was frozen. For this reason I am going to toss the garlic bread and the turkey lunchmeat. I served the cheese from the cheese tray tonight with crackers and soup figuring 1 day past expiration is o.k. for cheese but I would not serve the salami. It is bothering me to even let the boys eat the cookies from 10/08. It is just the thought that this is all old food that has been sitting around.
I figured up the approximate cost of these food items to be around $40.00 but some are things I never would have bought in the first place. I was disappointed there was no laundry soap or other cleaning items like paper towels which I really need.
I also went to a job fair today and registered at another job counseling agency. I was applying for a "part-time, part-time job" of just 10 hours a week with a rate of pay of $10.00 per hour and no benefits or insurance. This was an entry level position geared for students in social work and psychology. Yet I saw other middle-aged clinicians male and female with master's degrees applying just as I. A bit depressing. I overheard someone say that the market is saturated with clinicians of my level and there are just not enough jobs to go around. Then later I spoke with the real estate paralegal about information she needed as well as my divorce attorney at length about trying to negotiate a settlement prior to mediation, etc. After my day I was just exhausted and drained! Wanting to just go to bed and hide under the covers. And another deep freeze is moving in - oh joy!
Today I am thankful:
1. That until today I never had to visit a food pantry and I pray there will not be many more times.
2. That I will never again think negative thoughts about a person in front of me at the store using federal assistance to purchase food.
3. That my children look at this time as an adventure rather than as something shameful.