This is a continuation of the cranberries story we started a week ago.
I told the cranberry story as part of my presentation up at the Food Bank of Alaska as part of their agency conference. I told the story as an example of why it’s kind of interesting and fun to get out of the way and let forces that we don’t control play a role in designing what happens.
At the end of my presentation, a young man came up, identified himself as the manager of a large pantry at a big multi-service agency up there in Anchorage. He said, “Oh my goodness, I’ve never thought about these issues this way. You’ve completely changed my thinking about how a food pantry should run. I am totally committed to changing my pantry from doing everything wrong to doing everything right. I hope to get that done as quickly as possible, but it’ll take a little while to work through the politics of the organization because it would represent quite a change for them.”
He knew, though, that he could immediately make one of the interim changes that I had commended as a possibility. While they continued giving out their standardized bags, he would come to the Food Bank, get a big selection of things that they did not include in their standardized bag, and put them out on what he was going to call the “Odds and Ends” table. After people had been given their standardized bag of food, they would be invited to go over and pick out an item per family member.
I must not have given the impression of being sufficiently impressed at that point, because he persisted, saying that he would even be taking and offering out various types of pudding. He explained that at some earlier point in his life he had been hospitalized with some ailment for an extended period of time – certainly weeks, if not months – and the only thing they had let him have to eat was pudding, to the point that the very thought of pudding was enough to make him run from the room screaming. He pointed out to me that, you never know, it might be like those cranberries, there could be somebody that needs pudding.