Friday, March 30, 2012

SCAT Food Delivery Team - Week 13



Where I Went:
SCAT (Special Church/Community Action Team) is a food-pantry ministry of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Beaverton, OR. The church website details SCAT’s mission:
  • Deliver 5-7 days worth of nutritious food and basic household items tailored to meet specific dietary needs of low-income residents referred by Care to Share (CTS) or Oregon Food Bank (OFB). Delivery services are intended for those who are elderly, ill, disabled or without transportation.
  • Operate "shopping-style" pantries that provide 5-7 days worth of a variety of nutritious food choices as well as basic household items for referred families. Walk-ins are provided a limited amount of emergency food and contact information for CTS. It is our policy that no one leaves our building without food, whether or not they have a referral.
  • Provide traditional Christmas food baskets and gifts to economically disadvantaged families in Beaverton and surrounding areas.
First Impressions:
I thought I may be pushing my luck scheduling a volunteer activity for the whole family on Wednesday. Spring Break theater camp results in tired, hungry, and grumpy children each day at pick-up. My husband, Edd, took the day off work so we could celebrate his birthday together. Nothing says, “Happy 45th!” like an afternoon delivering food!

As we drove into the SCAT parking lot, a wave of memories washed over me. St. Matthew Lutheran was my home church for 10 years, 6 of which I worked in youth ministry. I once knew that church like the back of my hand, so I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know a ton about the SCAT ministry. I knew it existed and I took the youth to pack food when we needed a service activity, but it was always an area where other people served. The more I read about the history of SCAT, the more excited I became to be a part of the group.
Some SCAT volunteers assist walk-in clients and referrals from Care to Share, a local social service agency. Other helpers pre-pack non-perishable items in boxes for daily delivery. (This was the job I remember doing with the middle school youth group.) Volunteer teams deliver boxes of food to low-income residents without transportation. 
Joanne D. is on the SCAT leadership team. Joanne and I go way back - both of her kids participated in youth group while I worked there. When I told Joanne about my 2012 experiment, she suggested the Zomerman family form their own delivery team, committing to volunteer one afternoon a month. I kind of like knowing that our family will have this time set aside to serve together.
The Job:
Joanne met us at 3:30 to begin training. Okay, we didn’t get right to the training. The last time she saw my daughters, one was a pre-schooler and the other an infant. Her once-teenagers are now grown-ups in the real world. We had a lot of catching up to do!
After many minutes of chit-chat, we focused on the task at hand. Joanne guided us through each step the delivery team job entails:
Joanne making calls

1. Gather the faxed daily delivery assignments from Care to Share.
2. Call the recipients to make sure someone will accept delivery.
3. Pack the food.
Food is packed according to family size. Canned and boxed items have been pre-packed in labeled boxes and stacked on shelves over the weekend, so delivery teams simply need to grab what they require.

Non-perishables are boxed and ready for delivery teams to take.

Perishables need to be gathered the afternoon of transport. Taped reminders on refrigerators and freezers detail exactly how much bread, meat, produce, and treats each size family receives. My pre-teens loved taking responsibility for dessert distribution.

Doughnuts, Brownies, and Apple Strudel - Oh my!

4. Log the temperatures: Each cold room, freezer, and refrigerator needs to have it’s current temperature recorded. It seems tedious, but necessary for food safety. With all 4 of us checking, the numbers were logged in a snap.
5. Deliver
Joanne sent us on our way as Edd looked up the addresses on his iPhone and navigated. Our first stop was a budget motel. I popped in the lobby to announce myself and the manager took us to the room. 
Manager knocked on the door. No answer. She knocked again and made her presence known. No answer.
She opened the door. A cloud of cigarette smoke escaped as a man inside (dressed, thank God) raced to see who entered. The man, it turned out, was not the man who is paying for the room. Edd and I told the girls to stay in the car and Manager showed us where to set the food boxes. Meanwhile, she argued with Non-Paying Man and began shouting “Grab your stuff and get out, NOW!”
Edd and I rushed to get the food in the room, hurried back in the car, and quickly slammed the doors shut.
“Please make sure you will always take me with you when you deliver,” he pleaded.
The next stop was less than a mile up the road. Again, I asked the girls to stay in the car until we could assess the situation. A single guy answered the door to his run down apartment. I asked the girls to wait once more while Edd and I carried the boxes to his door. 
Yep, I do want Edd with me when I deliver. 
The last delivery was to a family of four. We pulled up in the driveway of the duplex and decided the girls could help unload this time. A grateful father and his 3 kids answered the door and helped bring the food inside. This was the environment I wanted my daughters to see. I felt safer here, more like neighbor helping neighbor. 
Hopefully, they're also learning what it means to have the "nature of a servant."
How to Help:
If you are interested in volunteering with SCAT, please comment below and I will contact you. 
St. Matthew members lead the SCAT ministry, but they also partner with area churches. I’m excited for our own new church, Kaleo, to become a partner with this emergency food organization. 
I may not be a St. Matthew member any longer, but their community will always hold a place in my heart. I’m proud to be involved once again with a church who, through ministries like SCAT, shows their neighbors what it means to have the “nature of a servant.” 

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