A Long Weekend


By Jean Blish Siers *

biscuits Last year I visited one of the soup kitchens that receives fresh produce from us. They serve a hot lunch five days a week in an area that has become part of suburban Charlotte. From I-77, the driver sees shopping centers and shiny new housing developments. But a few blocks from the off ramp, in a quiet and well-kept neighborhood, dozens come daily for food and fellowship.

Volunteers bring plated food to the tables and serve all comers. The day I was there, I saw families with small children, the elderly, folks who looked like they stopped in on their break from work. I saw old and young, white, black and Latino. At the front of the dining area were piles of leftovers, donated by local stores – day-old bread, pre-cut fruit that was ready to age out but still good, bags of unhealthy but filling snacks and crackers. Diners were invited to grab some extra on their way out.

After the dining room cleared, I sat down with Sandy, the dedicated kitchen manager who has run this amazing operation since she retired from her uptown job more than five years ago. She told me stories that both warmed and broke my heart.

The one that has stuck in my head and hasn’t gone away is this one: In the neighborhood are a couple of apartment communities for low-income seniors. Sandy said that on Fridays, she usually sees at least one older lady saving half a biscuit or a piece of sandwich, wrapping it in a napkin at the end of her meal. “I always ask, Can I take that in the kitchen and wrap it up better for you? They let me take it, and I wrap up whatever I can find, whole biscuits, a piece of fruit. They’re always so hungry when they come back on Monday.”

According to a study by AARP, those food insecure seniors (and that’s about 25% of seniors in the Charlotte area) are twice as likely as other seniors to suffer from diabetes; they are five times more likely to suffer from depression; and are far less likely by standard measures to be in either good or excellent health.

I love to be in the fields on a sunny day, picking produce and loading trucks. I love connecting with volunteers and farmers and building relationships. But it’s important always to keep in mind the people we are picking that produce for. Now, when I know a load is going to that kitchen, I picture a woman who could be my mother taking home an extra sweet potato or a fresh cob of corn, something to nourish her over a weekend, and I know why I do my job.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.


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In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

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