I picked up Irene at the airport at about 10:30, dropped her off at home, and then headed down to State to meet a group to put in a "service-learning day" at the N.C. Food Bank.
There were a total of 11 of us, which included four "staff" members (me, Myra, Allisa, and Brian (Bree-an). The rest were students who were getting service-learning credit for one class or another to participate.
While we were signing release forms and waivers, I got a call from Maria (Irene's mom) detailing some car issues, suggesting that Irene rent a car up here and drive it to Jacksonville. This changed our plans, as I was going to drive her to Jacksonville later this evening.
We drove to the Food Bank in three cars, and I had Jamilia and Joycelyn in my car. Joycelyn was either on her cell phone or had her iPod ear buds in the entire way.
We were supposed to be talking about what we knew about hunger and poverty in North Carolina, what we thought the Food Bank actually did, what we imagined we might be doing for them for our volunteer day once we got there, and if we'd ever done any other work (volunteer or paid) in the area of poverty and hunger. That would be the learning part of service-learning.
Myra and Allisa were the other two drivers, and Allisa followed Myra. We had mapquest.com directions, and they were awful. I got lost on the way, and they ended up being so late that they missed the orientation.
At the beginning, Jamilia, Joycelyn, and myself (since the others hadn't arrived yet when they started) convened with three other groups who were there to volunteer this afternoon, and one of the Food Bank employees, Jim, gave us an overview of this Food Bank's operation.
- There are a total of 9 food banks in N.C., including one in Durham and one in Wilmington.
- This one is the biggest in the state.
- Of the 100 N.C. counties, this one serves 34 of them — all eastern counties, which are the poorest in the state.
- An estimated 400,000 people in these counties receive food from the food bank.
- The food bank is the recipient of the canned goods collected at the State Fair on Thursday, the day it's "free admission for four cans of canned goods." This year they received about 280,000 pounds of food from that day.
- On average, the number of volunteers they get each year is as if they had 50 full time employees.
We got a quick lesson from Kevin, one of the other employees of the Food Bank, on how to discern a "good" potato from a "bad" potato. There were really only two things that made a potato bad; see if you can pick them out of these three:
- Being picked by someone on a cell-phone while going through the potatoes.
- Mold or mildew on it.
- Being soft or mushy.
When I moved to the second box, I started going through my list of puns (that I've been posting for the past few days), and Brian was just rolling through almost everyone of them. He is a real fan of puns.
We left there at about 4:10, and I talked with Jamilia about the day, reminding her of some of the things we learned in the orientation that the others missed, because once we got back to State, they were all going upstairs to discuss what they learned during the day. I thought that would be a good thing for her to do — share with the others what they'd missed.
Joycelyn stayed on the phone the entire way back. Oh wait. She did get off long enough to ask, "Do you think Myra will care, if when we get back, I don't participate in the wrap-up? My mother and brother will be waiting for me to go to the State Fair."
"You'll have to ask her that," I said. "My feeling is, that at the very least, you are going to have to fill out some paperwork detailing what you learned today."
Irene and I had a wonderful dinner at Irregardless Cafe. We got these two entrees and shared them:
|PORTABELLA POLENTA (vegan) - Portabella mushroom cap marinated with balsamic vinegar and grilled. Served with polenta, verde sauce and vegetable du jour.|
|BEEF QUESADILLA - Angus steak grilled, sliced and folded in a flour tortilla with Cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses, roasted peppers and onions. Griddled golden brown and served with pico de gallo, red rice, and sour cream.|
This was proceeded by a house salad with lemon tahini dressing (of course!). Irene had wine, and I had a bourbon and diet.
Irene stayed home to get some sleep, and I went to Flex to dance. We only danced for an hour, because with it being Bear Trap Weekend, the place was too jammed by 10:00 to, practically, keep a third of the floor space in the joint set aside as a dance floor.
I stayed for about an hour after the dancing stopped, and for the most part just sat alone on the pool table taking in the goings on.
When I got home, Irene was still awake, and we listened to several podcasts, until she finally started dozing. Yay!