Just for Organization

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

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It was 1/21/14. I've delayed my journey because of mid-terms, which is a lousy excuse.

To pick things up, my father and I drove to the local farmer's market in the RTP area to explore and just learn more about the already present system withholding our local farmers and fresh food. We entered into the fresh-produce section where individually licensed farmers and their workers were hard at work luring consumers over for the best round of the pot. Remember, this was my first time speaking, in person, on this project other than with the assistant principal. To say the least, I was at a loss of words and direction, the idea of talking to these strangers who would probably be hostile with information was nerve-wrecking to me. But you have to start somewhere, correct? I started with an amiable-looking man who was behind a counter choc full of apples that were arranged in groups in baskets and bags with his logo on them.

I remember the first question I asked him was,"Do you usually have any left over apples?" I got a confusing answer, so it took me 3-5 more times of rephrasing to get my question across. Started from the bottom.

After speaking briefly with most of the farmers, we stopped my a lady who was selling almost all the vegetables you could think of. Her stand was a whole corner of the market. We chatted for a while about how tough it was to be a farmer - the seasons were rough, the marginal price was tough to optimize before everything rotted, the consumers were picky, the waste was too much, etc - then we got on the subject of utilizing the foods that become "waste". She referred us to the office building in the plaza to learn more about the shuttle that came around everyday after selling time to pick up the scraps. The best places to glean would not be small farms because after talking to many of them, most, if not all said that they are extremely frugal with their food; if a head of lettuce were to go bad in a crate, they would use that to feed back to their pigs, cows, etc, or compost it.

We followed her lead and met with the coordinator of the shuttle. She advised us to maybe contact larger producers that link to large stores, such as farms that grow food for Walmart. She also referred us to IFFS (Inter-faith Food Shuttle). They are the ones who make the daily rounds to pick up leftovers. Found out that IFFS is very similar to Be Healthy Tulare, which is great, because that means that there are organizations and passionate people out there working on this cause.

We went to the IFFS headquarters immediately following and met a very amicable woman who was EXTREMELY passionate about what she does. She informed us about all the current programs that IFFS offers and is advocating. Down the hall from IFFS, there are other organizations that include Meals on Wheels, and Backpack Buddies. From talking to the wonderful lady, I gained 2 important contacts, of the two, one who would be my mentor in my project, Maurice Smalls. I value the concepts that they value; one in particular is teaching people how to sustain themselves. A quote that I heard floating around the building was "Give a man a fish. Teach the man to fish. Stock the pond for all."


This experience taught me that roads are never straight, but rather, they are curvy, sharp, some take you back where you started, and some take you up and down hills, some lead to dead ends, and some lead to new roads that you can only see in a different light and perspective. We all need to learn as much as possible about the world around us, simultaneously, we need to not be discouraged when the road isn't straight (100% of the time). We can change the world. Many people are already making their footprint, so how can we expand that footprint and utilize the infrastructure that they created for us through blood and sweat? That is the question.


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