This story of client choice comes to us from John Arnold, then the executive director of Feeding America West Michigan.
Fairly often, farmers and private individuals or even companies will give the Food Bank small quantities of kind of unusual products. With those donations, rather than logging them into the computer and trying to order them out in a computerized system, we just put them out in an area we call our shopping area. Agencies are able to get a shopping cart and walk around in that area and see if there’s anything they would like to take. We roll the cart onto a floor scale and subtract the weight of the cart, and then the agency pays us our handling fee based on the weight of the product they’ve taken.
Well, out in the shopping area, we experienced the beginning of a sequence of events that if not outright miracles are at least pretty darn close, close enough for our purposes. It all began one day when a farmer dropped off a couple of bushels of whole fresh raw cranberries to us. We put those out in the shopping area with a grain scoop and some plastic bags and twist ties in the hope that there would be agencies that would take some.
We got the cranberries out there, and I happened to be walking through that area on my way to our shipping/receiving docks – which takes you through our shopping area – and noticed that standing next to the cranberries was a lady from an agency that’s very good about taking pretty much everything we’ve got, chatting with someone else who I didn’t know.
On my way by, just purely goofing with them, I tapped my friend on the shoulder and thanked them both for taking some of the cranberries in a very joking way. She laughed and commented about how I never seem to give up on the issue of taking and offering whatever’s available. I made some comment back about miracles just waiting to happen, and went on my way.
They apparently did go ahead and scoop up some of the cranberries after my comments and added them to what they were taking. When they got back to the church, they put everything away except the cranberries and realized at that point that none of the volunteers were sure, when you put cranberries “away,” where exactly they should go! Because the Food Bank had them out, but it was a fairly cool day, and so it was kind of like being refrigerated, but could you freeze them, etc?
They were laughing about this dilemma when in walked a client, a mother who had just taken her daughter to the doctor; the daughter had a kidney infection of some sort, and the mother has been told to get raw, whole cranberries and boil them and give the daughter the tea from that, and where was a poor woman like her supposed to get cranberries? And of course there they were…