This previous semester, I had the joy of continuing my volunteer work at the Edwards Street Food Pantry. When the Fall semester ended, I continued to volunteer every Friday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM until the spring semester began.
Much of the work I completed at the food pantry this semester mirrored the work I had completed here during the fall; I bagged pinto beans, rice, and dog food; prepared bags to be distributed; stocked shelves; cleaned the trail behind the food pantry; shredded old paperwork; and filed new paperwork. Though this volunteer work may seem tedious and mundane, I enjoy everything I do here. For years I have wanted to serve those who need assistance in obtaining necessities such as food since these resources play more vital roles in our lives than we tend to take for granted without even realizing it. While it may appear that filing paperwork does not directly aid those who enter the food pantry, it is an essential process that records who is seeking assistance and that opened my eyes not only to the number of individuals the food pantry serves but also to the comforting environment nurtured here.
One day, while I was alphabetizing and filing paperwork in the front of the food pantry, a woman entered, sobbing. I had been filing paperwork in the front of the food pantry for a few weeks, taking notice of the vast amount of papers before me as well as the array of people who entered the food pantry. Usually, people enter the food pantry either nonchalantly or joyously; I had not seen someone enter crying until then. She approached the desk, said she had just been evicted, and was seeking advice, hygiene products, and food. We were able to provide this woman with food and advice, but the food pantry does not distribute hygiene products besides feminine hygiene products. This experience allowed me to realize the profound effects a food pantry, its staff, and it volunteers can have upon a patron; instead of seeking comfort from family or friends, this woman sought solace from people she likely interacts with casually while picking up food. This experience has allowed me to view Edwards Street Food Pantry in a light that provides those with food that nourishes the body as well as food that nourishes the soul.
For those who are interested in volunteering at Edwards Street Food Pantry, call (601) 544–6149 and ask for Mrs. Anna Hamilton. Upon calling, she will ask about your availability and will schedule a day and time for you to come volunteer. Edwards Street Food Pantry is run by Edwards Street Fellowship Center which also serves the community with a Thrift Store and a Fellowship Health Clinic. For this contact information, the link is provided below!
This post was written by Austin Rayner, second year Luckyday Scholar majoring in political science.