Holly W.

The Food Pantry

An old supermarket building, taken over by a local church,
handing out food to all in need, young and old, men and women.
Some came alone, some with friends, some with family.
As we, a group of New England kids, stood outside to help load food into cars,
we learned more than we could have thought possible
on that blustery day in February, in the mountains of Kentucky.

The first man that day was an old one, sixty-four and proud,
with stories of knife fights, warning us to watch out,
how it was in the old days, walking down "bad" streets, praying
you would be lucky enough to get to work, where you had to go
to put food on the table, to stay alive.

So open, so grateful, everyone with a story to tell,
why they were at the bottom of the heap,
taking the little food, only allowed once a month,
with little or no nutritional value,
more junk food and candy than the staples of life.

Some had cancer, others a stroke, still others had lost a limb,
all unable to work. Everyone who came through those doors was ready
to share with us, the outsiders, stories, knowledge, food, and faith.

One man, a volunteer who gets most of his food at the pantry,
made us biscuits with cornmeal he ground himself,
took pride in the way we "ooohhhed" and "aaahhhed" over the delicious breads,
still heavenly warm from his oven.

A woman, shivering in a thin coat,
inquired after our health, how long we were staying, when we were heading home.
Our eighteen-hour bus ride provoked exclamations,
how unfortunate we were, saying she would pray for us,
teenagers she would never see again,
though it's she who needs someone praying for her.

We had gone to the food pantry to help our fellow people,
but they showed us who was really in need.
We may have more designer clothes and expensive cars than the people of that small Kentucky town,
but compared to them we're poverty.
Their faith and love was greater than anything we gave out
at the Food Panty.


Copyright 2002-2008 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2008 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.