I admit, before I did my first run (a run is picking up food from a store or restaurant and dropping it off at a shelter or food pantry) I had heard at the volunteers’ meeting it was really simple and had my doubts. I grew up believing phrases such as “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and “if it sounds too easy, it’s probably too good to be true”. I figured the founders of Community Plates were trying to encourage volunteers and not mention the true pitfalls of a run. However, as I learned last week, they weren’t hiding anything. It really was as easy and fast as they said it would be.
I went on 2 runs last week. The first one was to Trader Joe’s where I tagged along with Kevin Mullins. Kevin is the Executive Director at Community Plates and I figured if anything went wrong, he’d quickly know what to do. However, there was nothing that went wrong. The process is streamlined. Kevin called ahead and discussed the time Community Plates would come to the store. We pulled up at the loading dock of Trader Joe’s and the staff of Trader Joe’s wheeled out Community Plates’ food bins with food in it. Because Community Plates keeps its food bins on the loading dock, there is never an issue of having to hand the staff bins and waiting for them to load them before heading out to a shelter or food pantry. We dropped off food at 2 places before I headed back to my car at the Community Plates parking lot. This run with 2 stops and some conversation after the run took about 1 hour.
My second run was a solo job. I had no one to rely on to show me the ropes, but after seeing how streamlined the Trader Joes’ run was, I had no doubts. Saturday morning I called Whole Foods in Darien, learned they had some items, and drove over there. I parked by the loading dock, walked in, went to the shelves labeled “Donations”, picked up bags of bread and headed back to my car to drop off at a shelter. It took about 10 minutes to load the car and head on my way to the shelter in Norwalk. This run, including a stop off for gas, took about 40 minutes (and about 10 minutes was spent at the gas station because it was crowded).
Up till last week, I had never done anything like this and wouldn’t hesitate to tell people about my experience – how I had reservations about the ease of doing a run and how happy I am to be proven wrong.