July 7, 2011

President's Blog: Long-Time Eater, First-Time Gleaner

Kristen A. Beall, Ed.D.

Ron Eaves gives a "thumb's up" on my first time as a gleaner.

Long-Time Eater, First-Time Gleaner

When was the last time you went without a meal? Other than a Lenten fast, I canít say that I have ever missed a meal . . . and certainly never for lack of resources. 

So, letís say for argumentís sake, that in the last 20 years of my adult life Iíve consumed roughly three meals a day for 365 days a year, with each meal weighing roughly one pound.  Thatís 21,900 pounds of food!  And Iím willing to bet that there were a few days during that time when I ate way, way, way more than necessary . . . letís say another 1,100 pounds.

When was the last time you went without a meal? Other than a Lenten fast, I canít say that I have ever missed a meal . . . and certainly never for lack of resources. 

So, letís say for argumentís sake, that in the last 20 years of my adult life Iíve consumed roughly three meals a day for 365 days a year, with each meal weighing roughly one pound.  Thatís 21,900 pounds of food!  And Iím willing to bet that there were a few days during that time when I ate way, way, way more than necessary . . . letís say another 1,100 pounds.

But what about all those trips to Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs over the past two decades . . . the Hebrew National hot dogs, grilled onions and hot pretzels with mustard?  And our season tickets at Soldier Field . . . eight home games per year where the menu consisted of an Italian beef sandwich, a Sheboygan bratwurst and maybe even a slice of deep dish pizza?  Okay, so letís add another 2,000 pounds, just to keep things honest.  That makes 25,000 pounds of food consumed in my adult life alone!

Today I learned that 25,000 pounds of food is about what the Golden Empire Gleaners distributed each week last year to needy families in Kern County. I learned this while riding along with Ron Eaves, chairman of the organizationís board of directors and regular Thursday morning volunteer. For the last twenty-five years, people like Ron have been volunteering their time to work with the Golden Empire Gleaners to help alleviate hunger and provide food for needy persons of all ages in our community.

Our day started at 7:30 a.m. when, after checking the oil and mirrors of one of the Gleaners' delivery trucks, we headed out to southwest Bakersfield to collect donated food that would otherwise go to waste from three grocery stores. On the way, Ron told me that, with the help of over 100 affiliated agencies, the day-old bread, bagels and pastries that we would collect would be used to help needy children, senior citizens, families in crisis and other local neighbors in need.

During our drive, Ron told me about how the generosity and kindness of people like Claude Fiddler, Jim Burke and Ray Dezember were a motivation for him to get involved with the Gleaners after his retirement as professor at CSUB.  Today, the ďsparkplug leadershipĒ of Pam Fiorini, Executive Director, and his fellow volunteers keep him coming back.

By 9:30 a.m. we had finished our route. Our haul for the day was just over 400 pounds of food, most of which would be sorted by volunteers and sent out to people in need by the end of day. Pretty good for a first time gleaner . . . and for someone like me who has never known hunger, worth its weight in gold. 

Learn more by visiting the Golden Empire Gleanerís profile on Kern Community Foundationís Nonprofit Search and click ďDonate NowĒ to make an online contribution to support their work.

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