Front Burner Blog

Taking It to the Streets

Every single day Food Lifeline rescues thousands of pounds of food – and every single day Food Lifeline delivers thousands of pounds of food. That’s a lot of coming and going! Fortunately we have a serious fleet of heroes to help us – our drivers! 

I joined Food Lifeline just a few weeks ago, and today I have the opportunity to hit the streets with our drivers for a ground-level understanding of how things really work around here. My experiences not only inform all the work that I do in Food Lifeline’s administrative offices, they’re also a chance to connect with my new colleagues and have an epically great couple of days!

My first shift is a Grocery Rescue mission with a 5:30AM call time. I meet up with Rick, the driver I’ve been assigned to, who walks me through his morning routine starting with his vehicle preparation check list. Pressing buttons, adjusting mirrors and seats, circling the truck, Rick explains his every action and lets me know what to expect for the day right down to the unique sounds the truck will make along the way.

Rick and I quickly settle into our commute to north King County, exchanging stories and getting to know each other over the din of the rumbling truck. The time passes quickly and before I know it, the sun is up and we’ve arrived at the first of three Albertson’s locations for the day.

Rick is thorough in explaining what to expect. It’s clear that he takes pride in his work and wants me to have the fullest experience. As we disembark, he gives me a full run-down of the personalities and preferences of everyone we’ll meet today. We say good morning to the staff as the grocery carts roll in and the food rescuing begins.

I quickly realize that I should have done some warm up exercises because there is a lot of packing to be done. The work is energizing though – being able to personally see and sort food that I know will be nourishing members of my community is a truly invigorating activity. At times though, it’s also a mouth-watering activity because the food we are packing is super good stuff! (There’s nothing like seeing brie, baguettes, and coffee cake first thing in the morning to get the tummy rumbling).

Once we’ve packed, inventoried, weighed, and loaded the rescued groceries we are off to our next destination. Rick is friends with everyone we encounter, acting as both an extension of their teams and Food Lifeline ambassador. By the time we’ve wrapped up at our third stop, we’ve rescued over 2,300 pounds of healthy and nutritious food and are ready to head back to the Hunger Solution Center to unload.

My second shift is a food delivery mission across Pierce County with a call time of 4:15AM. I begin my shift 

in the Hunger Solution Center’s warehouse where the staff maneuvers fork lifts across the cement floor like Olympic figure skaters gliding on fresh ice. The driver I’ll be working with today is Bruce. We set out as soon as he finishes loading the truck.  

Bruce and I are fast friends sharing a love of storytelling, lighthouses, and marathon reading. We make multiple deliveries to food banks spanning from Graham to Tacoma, where I get to know the people we serve while Bruce operates the fork lift. Everywhere we go there are outstretched arms and smiling faces ready to receive the day’s bounty. Bruce lets me know that this is one of his favorite parts of the job. At every turn we are able to experience the impact our efforts are making first hand. It is both an uplifting experience and a humbling one.

By the end of the day I’m zonked, but my heart is full of good deeds done and my memory bank is loaded with new and exciting stories to share.

To the quiet heroes driving Food Lifeline’s mission I say, “Thank you for your incredible work, wonderful attitudes, and for letting me be part of your lives for a day!”

If you or someone you know would like to get in on some of those good feelings I mentioned earlier, please consider volunteering or donating

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