Fork It Over with a Friend – Week 7

Tara flashing the “peace” sign next to our haul of leftover lunches.

Where I Went:
The Beaverton School District gives this overview of Fork It Over:

School cafeteria food, which would otherwise be thrown out, is packaged by nutrition services staff at each school and made ready for delivery to local food pantries.  Fork It Over volunteers pick the food up and make the delivery.  You help by transporting food from schools to a food pantry.  Whether you volunteer once a month, or once a week, your help is greatly needed.  The commitment is about an hour of your time and the use of your own vehicle. 

First Impressions:
My first “repeat” assignment, I helped with Fork It Over on week 3 of my volunteering adventure after my friend, Tara, raved about the ease of the experience. After I accomplished a route by myself, Tara suggested that the two of us tackle 2 routes together; the same one I’d done plus a new one. Last month, I completed the three school route in less than an hour. I was confident that picking up deliveries from six schools wouldn’t be a problem in the hour and a half allotted timeframe.
The Job:
I picked up Tara at 9:45 on a gloomy Friday morning and we headed to Five Oaks Middle School. As I started to pull in by the office, Tara pointed toward the back of the campus and told me to park by the cafeteria doors instead. “Look for the trash cans and wide loading zones,” she directed. Okay, this makes way more sense than trekking carts to and from the back of the school to the front parking lot. I bet we saved 10 minutes right there.
 After loading a box of frozen food and a box of apples into the car, we veered off route for a caffe americano and a real carmel latte.  Tara is a sporty, food conscious, vegetarian and I am…well…not. I’ll let you decide who ordered which coffee drink. We ordered at Insomnia Coffee Co., driving past 4 conglomerate caffeine outlets to get there. This blog is supposed to record my desire to be more like Jesus, and I like to think that having a “nature of a servant” means supporting local java roasters.
The next two pick ups went off without a hitch. Schools are closed next Monday and as a result, we loaded lots of leftover food today. Not just frozen PB&J and frozen waffles like last time, but fruit, vegetables, hamburgers, and chicken sandwiches as well. 
Finding the 3 schools on the unfamiliar route was a tad tricky. Google maps led us in some crazy ways to get to where we needed to go. Through a planned community and some round-a-bouts we found Elmonica Elementary. Following Tara’s advice, I located the cafeteria door and parked in the loading zone. We found that each school’s back entrance had a service bell. Seriously more convenient than signing in at the office. 
Merlo Station High School was just a mile away, but we didn’t see anything resembling the backside of a lunchroom. We checked in at the office (which we learned is the only way for Fork It Over volunteers to enter) and meandered our way through the adolescents in the hallway to get to the cafeteria. We found the woman in charge and announced we were from Fork It Over. Acknowledging with a grunt, she got up and left. Tara and I looked at each other. Is she coming back with food?
The worker returned with a cartload of boxes. Instead of hiking back and forth to the parking lot, Tara waited by a side door while I drove the car around and we loaded from there. 
Beaver Acres Elementary was a block away from the high school. The cafeteria entrance was obvious, but it was blocked by school busses waiting to take home kindergarteners. I maneuvered into a tight spot and Tara and I were able to carry the 2 boxes without a cart. 
Beaver Acres has a convenient side entrance –
just make sure you avoid Kindergarten pickup time.
The Hope Food pantry is a short distance from Beaver Acres and we were there by 11:05.  Linda, the coordinator of the pantry opened the door to greet us. We had quite the haul for her, but luckily she had help sorting and stocking.
An update from my last Fork It Over assignment:
In a previous post, I wrote that when Linda and I met we chatted about how the new church I attend might be able to help at the food pantry. Last Thursday, our pastor and I visited Linda to see what tasks she had in store for us. By the end of the month, half of our our church volunteers will be spending an afternoon sorting and organizing donated food. The rest of our team will be transforming a children’s waiting area into a bright, colorful play room. I am still amazed by the web of relationships that take shape each time I volunteer in the community. 
Here is the room Kaleo gets to transform.
Want to help?
If you are a volunteer with the Beaverton School District, please consider taking a route with Fork It Over. Each route takes less than an hour and can easily be built into a daily errand schedule. Tara shared that she may even try the double route herself. I agree that this would be possible. But the truth is, I much prefer driving around with good coffee and excellent conversation with a friend.

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