The Bronto Marketing Team made their annual visit to the Urban Ministries of Durham’s (UMD) downtown facility earlier this month to lend a hand.
The ministry is a 26-year-old Durham institution with a goal of ending homelessness and fighting poverty. The ministry runs several programs including a food pantry. For our recent trip, we sorted through a rare bumper crop of donated food, helping re-stock the pantry shelves and categorizing the remaining donations to make it easy to restock items going forward.
The food pantry is open for a few morning hours Monday through Thursday. It serves about 26 families a day. Families can visit once a month. As someone who has donated to food pantries in the past, it was interesting to see what happens at a pantry. We spent a lot of time sorting through donations that were expired. I’m not talking about food about to expire (we put that in a special section), or even food that just expired. We found donations of items two, even three years, past their expiration.
We also learned a lot about what kinds of things food pantries need. We were easily able to restock the shelves with pasta, peanut butter and canned corn and green beans. But the canned meat was scarce and we barely came across any shelf-stable milk. These two protein sources are something food pantries and food banks desperately need. One great donation that UMD gets regularly: Bread from the Ninth Street Bakery.
I’ve always wondered what food pantries do with oddball items – and the UMD has the perfect response. There are two “crazy shelves” for items that aren’t staples. Some are great treats more people should consider donating (small packs of trail mix with nuts), and there was also some truly crazy stuff – like kosher salt and chia seeds.
There are also canned mushrooms on that shelf. My colleague Will wanted those on the veggie shelf, but I took an executive action and moved them to the crazy shelf. Sorry, Will!
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