Sunday, August 10, 2014

Packing Rainbow Food Boxes 8/9/14

by John Aldrich

Yesterday was the second of two Saturdays devoted to packing all of the Rainbow Food Boxes for the fall food runs. This is a big job so we were pleased to have a good turnout of volunteers to help. There were no large groups today but many regular volunteers, a number of new volunteers, and several family groups made up just the right number to get the job done.

Each food packing event starts with a Circle in which we dedicate ourselves to the service of the Elders who will receive the fruits of our efforts.

A basket of corn meal was passed around allowing every person an opportunity to make a small offering and prayer. We then got our marching orders from C.J. and got to work.

A bit more than half of the food boxes were packed last week, but there were still large supplies of the various food items stacked around the perimeter of the warehouse awaiting the "shoppers" to come by with their carts to fill the boxes.

New volunteers teamed up with experienced volunteers to learn the secrets of packing the boxes so that the tops could be folded down flat for taping.

Here, Jessica who is an expert now after having attended her first day of packing last week, showed Hennie how to fit everything into the boxes.

Other volunteers with prior experience at food box packing were able to start right out without help.

At the end of each cycle around the warehouse the labels for specific Elders are handed out to be taped to the boxes. Pat Eichinger was in charge of this job.

Then the boxes, each weighing around 35 pounds, were transferred to the taping table. Lamar Clark had a good workout by the end of the morning.

And the tapers, Fred and Tom here, went to work to complete each set of boxes.

Then the boxes were stacked by food run location, ready for loading when the time comes.

One of the perhaps less glamorous jobs is breaking down the boxes in which the food was delivered so that the cardboard will all fit into the dumpster for recycling. Ericka Norton seems to be enjoying this task.

'Round and 'round everyone went repeating this cycle until all of the boxes were packed:

Each food packing day has its unique aspects and special participants. Yesterday, new volunteer Margot Wholey was accompanied by a very special visitor. Luz Alicia Torres belongs to an indigenous tribe in Mexico that live in the Sonora region. There are only 800 members of this tribe and Margot is collaborating with Luz to produce a book about these unique people who still cling to their hunter-gatherer roots.

Margot herself is equally special, and we thank her for coming and bringing Luz. Margot caught on quickly to the box packing routine and rapidly advanced to solo cart operator status.

One of the family groups included our own C.J. Robb who is assistant director of ANE and warehouse manager. He is pictured here with his mother Paula, cousin Luke, and brother Jason who often helps out at the warehouse at critical times (how does he know?).

With the box packing completed, we're ready for the food runs to begin. The food run to Oljato and Navajo Mountain will take place in just over a week, with the remaining runs to follow a bit later. Volunteers who can join us and help transport everything to the reservation are still needed. Information and a driver's application are available at the Volunteer Activities Page of our web site.

Many thanks to everyone who helped us yesterday.