The Table opened its market style format in late January 2012. We had a group of volunteers who basically sat at the Food Bank on Mondays, sorting through boxes and the cooler looking for the healthiest foods they could find. The evening session opened in September 2013. We doubled our budget and started purchasing fresh produce from the Flores farm. Along the way, we started gleaning at five Wawa’s, a Jimmy John’s, and two Paneras. In 2016, we served more than 22,000 people and had a budget of $50,000. The Table has approximately 50 volunteers involved every Tuesday – half of whom are shoppers and non-St. Georgians.
Running The Table takes an enormous amount of time – more than one person can handle. Last year, we started to transition to a “board” with designated people running key areas. I think everyone realized just how much work was involved with running The Table when I fractured my elbow this past spring. All of a sudden, people were needed to open The Table in the morning and organize setting up. Leftover produce needed to be distributed to other pantries. Boxes needed to get back to the Food Bank. New volunteers needed to be added. Groups wanting to donate time and food had to be coordinated. Supplies needed to be ordered and purchased. And then there was the recordkeeping so necessary for grant writing. I could still do that one handed.
This week I will put in 30 to 40 hours picking up donations, maintaining records, having meetings with other agencies and food pantries, and physically moving donations around. Why is this work so important to me? Because no one should go hungry. I have seen the horrendous impact that divorce, job loss, medical emergencies, accidents have on people who are already stretched thin. Fast food is cheaper and easier than a healthy salad or vegetables, but it adds to medical issues. Thanks to a dedicated group of grant writers and donors, The Table will continue to prosper and send healthy food out in to neighborhoods that are currently underserved. I plan to be with them!