I recently had the opportunity to visit a Food Pantry that is doing a significant amount of good in West Oakland. It was compelling to see exactly what went into the successful distribution of food to the disadvantaged. Greg Harland, the owner of the food pantry, is edifying an old building with the dual purpose of providing affordable housing and free food to the local community. Stemming the intrusion of graffiti, stocking the food pantry with good affordable staples like potatoes and working toward upstairs functional apartments seem to be the ritual of building ownership for Greg. Everything is done on a shoe string. Surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges is to get a big enough truck to keep the pantry stocked. Safeway and others are capable of providing a lot of food for the pantry. But there is apparently only so much that can fit in a pickup truck. It seems ironic that transportation and not the food itself would be the challenge. It feels like an american problem.
When I met Greg a few days back to check out his operation, the food pantry wasn't going to be open for an hour or so, but people were already lining up. In the old days, this historic building had a covered walk way over the sidewalk. This is something a modern day planning department would likely frown upon, but it is worth noting that for the lines that will be forming outside this building, the concept might be worthy of reintroducing.