Life is Full of Surprises
By: Susan Naslund
San Diego Food Bank staff member, Alison Erze, arrived at the Bethlehem Food Pantry on a busy Saturday with a plan to surprise the volunteers with a plaque. She did not expect to be surprised herself.
At 9:00 a.m. on August 21, Alison walked up to the “Welcome Table” in front of the Good Shepherd Ministry Center searching for pantry leaders, Theresa Erb and Susan Naslund. It was 9:00 a.m., and the place was bustling with guests picking up food and diapers, as well as seeking fellowship. Susan had just finished replenishing a box of potatoes inside Holmes Hall when Alison found her. “I have an award for you!” she said excitedly. “The pantry has been chosen as our ‘Top Nutrition Pantry.’”
Every other year, the Jacob and Cushman San Diego Food Bank holds a Hunger Conference for their nonprofit and community partners to increase awareness of our collective response to food insecurity and to share ideas and best practices, as we all work to fight hunger in the San Diego region. Part of the Conference includes the presentation of several Non-Profit Partner Awards, one of which the Bethlehem Food Pantry has been selected to receive.
Since the conference will be held virtually this year, Alison came by to personally present the wall plaque and to thank volunteers for their remarkable work.
Looking around Holmes Hall, Alison was surprised as she took in the beautiful display of fresh produce, milk, eggs, non-perishable items, and pet food. Festive signs (made by Foothills UMC member, Lori Hable) hung over the tables, adding to market-style feel of the pantry. “Personal Shoppers” guiding guests and helping them make selections from each table were so engaged that they didn’t even notice the visitor. “I can’t believe this,” Alison said. She had not seen the pantry since the recent return to indoor distributions. “This is incredible.”
Indeed, the Bethlehem Food Pantry is an astonishingly wonderful place to be for both guests and volunteers. If you would like to participate, please contact Theresa or Susan at email@example.com to let them know of your availability. Whether you can serve every week, once a month, or once a quarter, chances are you will be surprised by your experience at the pantry!