"Tonight, Lucullus is host to Lucullus!" --Marcus Gaeius Lucullus, Roman statesman, general, and gourmand.

August 4th, 2010--16:45 hrs.

Woke up around 07:00 today, hoping to see a bit of sunshine to brighten my arousal. Nah, just the dreaded Marine Layer outside. Well, at least I'm alive to see it.

I shower, shave, dry off, and moisten my skin with Aquaphor mositurizer (the Wally Mart analouge, works OK for a Walmart product) from face to feet. Dress quickly, then pop open the fridge and pull a bottle of chilled tea out. As I drink my tea, I review my "Plan Of The Day," which includes a run to the Catholic Charities Food Pantry (my first this year).

At 08:30, I grab my wheeled cart and head out the door. Still overcast and chilly outside--not bad. I go over to the 335 bus stop and wait, picking up a copy of The Coast News from the "free paper" kiosk. I give it a good read, then park it in my cart for later use.

08:43--The 335 arrives, and I board. It's a twelve minute ride to Catholic Charities, which includes a three minute walk from the bus stop. When I arrive at the stop, I pull out my digital camera and take a few pictures (they will go into my on-line album). The food pantry is located in the same neighborhood as the Vista Community Clinic, Fresh & Easy Market, Round Table Pizza, and Curves For Women Workout Studio. There's a Taco Bell (freshly repainted in garish shades) across the street, along with a Citibank and a special "Vista Institution"--Chicks Charbroiled Chicken.

09:06--Both the food pantry, and the thrift store that houses it, open up. I go in and head for the Food Pantry, then park my cart (folded) by one of the tables. I go up to the receptionist and hand her my California Driver's License (you have to have a picture I.D. to use this pantry). I then go have a seat...only my lonesome there!

09:15--The receptionist calls me over and goes over any "preferences" I may have for today's trip. Takes about five minutes, then I go sit back down after getting-and-unlocking my cart.

09:21--My food order comes out. I also get a USDA Commodity Item with my order. I sign for both, wish everybody well, then load the items into my cart and head for the bus stop (the 334).

09:37--I get on board the 334, and begin the trip home. I get off at 09:50, and make it home by 09:56 pull my cart into the apartment, shut the door, and give thanks for my food order. Then I open the bags to see what I brought home...

1 loaf Oroweat 10 grain bread 1 loaf French Bread 1 15oz can of red beans 1 1lb bag of elbow pasta 1 2lb bag of Great Northern Beans 1 12oz can of Starkist Tuna, water packed. 1 3.5 oz can of sliced water chestnuts 1 15 oz can of green beans 1 15 oz can of apricots 1 15 oz can of VegAll 1 small bottle of Prego pasta sauce 1 10oz can of plain pasta sauce 1 can applesauce 1 20oz box of Sun-Maid Raisins 2 3oz cans of chunked chicken 1 8oz bag of Ghram Goldfish crackers 2 bags of powdered egg mix (the USDA commodity).

Well then, let's stash my stuff!

The French Bread went into the freezer. The loaf of Oroweat was put in my fridge. All the rest went into my "pantry box," located next to Fan#1 (the one closest to the door). Then I realized it was time for lunch. I opened both cans of chicken, mixed in some barbecue sauce and yellow mustard, and made a spread that I could make some sandwiches with. That, and the Grahm Goldfish, were my lunch.

I also got cracking on that night's dinner. I put 1lb of Great Northern Beans into the crock pot, poured water over the pile, and flipped on the Crock-Pot to "high" heat. I leave the Crock Pot alone for three hours, while I assemble the rest of dinner.

Three hours later, I switch off the crock-pot, drain the beans in my colander, then pop them back in. I then add 1 can of water chestnuts, 1 can of VegAll, 1 can of sauerkraut, 1 large can of tuna, and two cans of beer to provide the cooking stock. I then switch back on the crockpot, and let sit until 21:00.

Tastes good--but needs a bit more time to properly cook the Great Northerns. Still, I eat two bowls (hunger is such a great incentive) before turning the heat to simmer. I will leave it on until 13:00the next afternoon.

Going to ANY relief organization for things like emergency groceries might go against our national "John Wayne"-styled ethical makeup (fend for yourself, don't accept handouts or "do-gooder" help). That may be fine for some, but when my stomach is screaming in pain friom hunger, John Wayne can go rot in eternal torment!

Besides, I do not make a habit of using the food pantries here in Vista as a "free 7-Eleven." The funny thing is, I very seldom put them to use at all, if my weekly stipend check from my payee shows up on time. If it's very late (as it was this week), and it's been over two weeks since my last visit? Grab the cart and make tracks, Bubba...going hungry, even for someone of my size and girth, is very painful.

They are there when I need them...and I thank God for that, as well as the generosity of my neighbors here in Vista. I just try not to need them that often, and budgeting my finances helps with that. Still, when it comes time...I'm not too proud to make the trip that's needed.

Better to accept the help you need, rather than be too proud and in pain from severe hunger.


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Evelyn Aug. 6, 2010 @ 9:04 a.m.

An hour and a half total? That's rather quick, I'd say, but you were the only one there!

My internship senior yr included a food bank and most days there was a line waiting to get inside even before we opened. This was especially true on Mondays when we got the grocery store leftovers; or at the end/beginning of the month when incomes are running low.

I don't know if I'd say it's a John Wayn attitude, but there is much to be said about pride and having to ask for help. I remember several people break down and cry as they told me why they were there. (and I never asked why!--Big Rule of social work)And then there were the few times I had to stop myself from crying while I was with a client.

You don't mention this Rifa, but were you talking to the receptionist in the main waiting area? My social work senses are tingling.


MsGrant Aug. 6, 2010 @ 11:26 a.m.

That was a great blog, LPR. I felt like I was walking every step of the way with you. "Better to accept the help you need..." - I love that.


nan shartel Aug. 6, 2010 @ 12:44 p.m.

Terrific LPR!!

when i lived in Smallville Oregon my hb and i use to deliver for the food bank to those who couldn't get there on their own


nan shartel Aug. 7, 2010 @ 7:43 a.m.

wonderfully put Parker!!

hunger in America is a disgreace


Robert Johnston Aug. 8, 2010 @ 9:46 p.m.

Thank you for the kind words, my friends.

As for Blueevey:

If you are a "frequent guest," the receptionist-on-duty usually has your "typical" food order request on the on-site computer. Since I was the only one there, no biggie.

The reason they go over it with you is to: A) Make sure you don't get stuff in your order that you cannot eat (out of allergy or personal preferences). B) Let you know about new items that you might give a try to (ie: the Great Northern Beans). C) Make sure that you are getting the correct rations for your family size. D) When USDA Commodities come in, see if you might have an interest (haven't seen cheese if years, but the powdered eggs are a new item).

If there are more than two people, then ususally the food order is gone over with you by an intake worker (also SOP for the new clients their first time on site).



Evelyn Aug. 9, 2010 @ 2:27 p.m.

The last part of my comment was regarding confidentiality purposes... The idea/act of discussing personal information, even if just food choice, in a public area like a lobby, screams as a big no-no to me.

Confidentiality must be maintained.


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