With all the talk about nutrition that goes on these days, it is important to remind ourselves from time to time that food is more than just fuel for the body – it also plays a social and emotional role in life, the importance and value of which cannot be overstressed. This story comes to us from John Arnold, then the executive director of Feeding America West Michigan.
When the Feeding America way of allocating out food to its member food banks went entirely online, with the twice a day auction where food banks like ours bid credits that we have been assigned based on the poverty population of our service area, I was originally the person who did the bidding at our food bank. That lasted until a most unfortunate incident involving 5 trailer loads of wintergreen breath mints, but we won’t talk about that situation right now. In any case, while I was still doing our food bank’s bidding, I went onto the system one morning and saw that there were three trailer loads of Godiva chocolates available from out in Pennsylvania someplace. I was interested, but I checked on our inventory and found that we already had quite a bit of chocolate candy and so did not really need any of those three loads, but I felt a little bad about not bidding on them because Godiva chocolates certainly are among the best in the world.
I was stunned later that afternoon after the first bidding cycle had ended to see that all three of those truck loads were still available which meant that no food bank in the nation had bid anything on any of them. I was stunned, and I suppose a little angry or indignant that that could possibly be the case, and so promptly bid some small amount, probably 5 credits, just to make sure that at least somebody bid something on them. That was too extraordinarily wonderful a product to suffer the indignity of no one bidding on it. In the evening when they closed that bidding cycle I learned that I had won that truckload of product with my tiny little bid and saw that the other two truckloads were still languishing on the bidding boards for the morning cycle. So I bid another small amount on them and be darned if I didn’t win the second one that next morning. Thankfully someone else took the third one, but we ended up with two truckloads of these marvelous chocolates in our warehouse.
At about that time, we were working with the Senior Center in Manistique, Michigan on assembling a full truckload of product to send up to them for a special holiday distribution to the Senior Center’s clients. They had given us pretty much free rein to include everything we wanted to, so we put on enough of those chocolates so that ideally every client who they were going to serve would be able to get some of them. Several of my relatives who live in Manistique helped with the distribution and reported back to us subsequently that, as long as three years after that distribution, people there were still talking about the year there were Godiva chocolates.
Some of my food banking brethren hold that nutrition is the most important issue when it comes to food, and to the food that food banks distribute, but three years later, it was the Godiva chocolates that they were still talking about in Manistique.