A few days ago, Kathy and I went to visit Mid-Ohio Foodbank to take a tour of their facilities. Mainly our goal was to learn about the environmental features of their new building, which is Leed Gold Certified (a great achievement!). I have to say, I think we are making great progress at Broad Street Food Pantry. In the last two weeks, we have created and implemented volunteer and client surveys, met with a Rumpke representative for a waste audit, completed an environmental assessment, and have done a lot of research on both the environmental and transportation aspects of my project. We also have a lot on our plate for this week: an energy audit with American Electric Power, a staff meeting to discuss a new recycling plan, compiling the volunteer and client surveys, and researching options for composting, among other great things!
In light of how busy I was with all of these ideas floating around, I really wasn’t prepared for the awesomeness of Mid-Ohio. It really is a step (or four) above the rest in terms of environmental friendliness: computer controlled air conditioning, sky lights, automatically adjusting lighting, door-blowers that retain cold air without closing doors, big plastic baling machines…the list goes on! While I am so happy for the vast improvements Mid-Ohio has made with their new facility, I couldn’t help but think: how could I ever compete with that? I am sure every small food pantry worker or volunteer could tell you of their immense struggles to feed more people with less money on a daily basis. When a place like Mid-Ohio has so much to work with, and we have so little in comparison, the idea can be, and is, daunting.
On the ride home, as I was considering all of the obstacles small food pantries face, a memory came to me that really turned my thinking around. It was a short segment from the movie “Dirt” (which is wonderful, by the way, and you all should watch it!!). Her name is Wangari Maathai, and she tells the story of the hummingbird who tries to put out a forest fire. I won’t do the story justice, so here it is:
To me, Maathai’s story is beautiful. We are in a world where the rich are becoming richer, and the poor are becoming poorer. We are in a recession and the end seems not to be in sight. Those who give help, such as the food pantries, are in need of their own help as well just to get the funding they need to support the community. How do we fix this, such a large problem? How do we fix it when it seems like we don’t have enough?
By doing the best we can!
This is the last time I will think, “There is so much to be done, how could we ever be as great as the other?” I, WE, will give our best at the Food Pantry, on our other projects, in everything we do in our lives. Maathai reminds us that no matter the barrier, we cannot stand idly by, scared or unwilling, to take on the challenge in front of us. It is just not acceptable. Whatever our best may be, we have to give it, in everything we do. What else are we here for?