Feeding our Neighbors is the first in a series of five short stories written to honor the compassion and commitment of Pinnacle team members who went to extraordinary lengths to help their communities, residents or each other. The following was recently showcased at the 2018 Pinnacle Annual Leadership Conference in Charleston, SC.
People of all ages rely on food pantries for help. Those in need do not always have a particular look about them. They are not necessarily unkempt or living on the streets. Millions who struggle to get enough food every day are actually hard-working individuals stuck in low paying jobs. They often have multiple mouths to feed from a single income, making their reliance on pantries a daily part of their survival strategy.
Pinnacle has always been passionate about helping the hungry. Last year, team members made volunteering at food banks their most coveted community service activity, and for a very good reason. It is as important as it is necessary.
Hunger strikes people that we see every day but their dilemma is often hidden behind their smiles. In the case of Rosemont at Bethel Place in San Antonio, Texas, hunger is so prevalent that a food pantry exists on site to serve hundreds of predominately single-parent households. With a median income of only $16,800, more than 60 percent of the residents are housing voucher recipients. And anywhere from 40 to 60 children at the property seek three meals a day from the pantry.
Every week the shelves at Bethel Place are filled and every week they are emptied. Stocking and restocking is a perfunctory effort as residents come with their walkers, wagons, bags or boxes to take away their allotments. But these residents do not live in a bubble. The desperate need for food pours in from the surrounding community as well. So the onsite team spills their inexhaustible labors of love onto the parking lot outside of the Bethel Place walls.
Once a month, a conspicuous 18 wheeler from the San Antonio Food Bank drives up to the community with anywhere from 21,000 to 24,000 pounds of food. This is supplemental to what the property’s pantry supplies inside. It is a Food Fair and anyone who fills out the appropriate paperwork can take provisions from the expansive pallets. This is no small ordeal. Pinnacle’s team members are out there for five to six backbreaking hours each time to make sure that all who come are served in the most efficient manner possible. They do not do this because it is fun, as the word Fair might imply. Our team does it because they believe that every person has an obligation to help.
The team at Bethel Place is well aware that they house families of lower income. The realization hits hard each time children come asking for food. The pantry and supplemental Fairs are a means for keeping this community fed. And while it is not an easy job, the gratitude they receive makes it all worthwhile.