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  • erinschrode

Choose Light

Today hit me hard. People aren’t okay, people need help, people lack food right here in our community. It started with a phone call with the family center director for a local public elementary school — who told me that they had run out of our Conscious Kitchen hot meals, and that the line of cars waiting at the drive thru they set up for families extended so far that it stopped traffic all the way on the freeway, and the Sheriffs had to cut it short. This particular community is geographically removed from the concentration of social services in the heart of the Canal, though comprised of the same immigrant demographic that is disproportionately affected by deepening economic, health and social challenges. And beyond that, the organizers/school/district had not been able to serve fourteen kids and families who lack any transportation whatsoever to even be able to reach that site for meals or otherwise. Tears welled up in my eyes, as I processed that reality. This neighborhood is 15 minutes from my house, down the road from the farmers market that sells seasonal bounties weekly, a stone’s throw from where I went to summer camp as a kid — and children don’t have enough food to eat. I told her I could get a big tray of hot, organic, nourishing meals and one or two boxes of fresh organic produce to each of those kids’ homes TODAY. She couldn’t believe it. But how could I not? I wanted to do more, I want to do more, I will do more. But that is what I could promise and deliver on in the moment, as well as continuing to provide ongoing and additional meals for the drive thrus (Chef Doloresis already increasing numbers!). So I picked up the phone and confirmed the purchase of more farm boxes locally, asked Chef Guillaume to turnaround extra meals within the hour (which he did without hesitation and with heart, of course), and called a student volunteer (who I knew had just finished online classes) to see if he would be able and willing to spend his day driving to these fourteen homes to drop off food. Matt was in. So I confirmed the addresses with the coordinator — and offered to increase the number of meals and farm boxes, because I was sitting in my own home feeling so helpless, wanting to alleviate suffering and fix the broken systems that have created such inequity and injustice, only exacerbated by the pandemic. “Some people have not gotten any food so yes, do as much as you have available😊🙏🏻You will make a lot of people happy today. I’m very grateful for that. Thank you!!!” I just made a few phone calls, connected some dots, did what I could with what I have from where I am. This was but one part of a busy Monday, getting ingredients and vegetables, foil pans and hot meals to people who need it — because hunger does not stop, not even in the rain — while slotting in volunteers, managing spreadsheets, figuring out new protocols for hospital deliveries, confirming farm box sales, drafting strategic plan timelines, and nibbling on some of the same organic veggies that went out to families… all in the blessed comfort and extraordinary privilege of my home, from which I can’t stray because of my own severely immunocompromised mother. Matt texted me step by step about his progress on the route between the 14 houses and apartments, ending with “It went really well! Everybody was so grateful it was really cool to see.” The kid stepped up, like everyone has. "Thanks so much for the opportunity,” he added. Thanks to him, thanks to everyone on our team, thanks to all Conscious Kitchen supporters, thanks to World Central Kitchen, thanks to our partners, thanks to community agencies for trusting us, thanks to countless for rising in service where and when it is needed most. I believe in humanity, but I also hurt for humanity. The food bank lines we see on the news are not some distant or unfathomable tragedy; it is happening right here, right now in our own backyards. People are waiting hours in line for hot food and basic supplies in San Rafael, in Marin County — one of the most affluent counties in America that has one of the highest percentages of organic farms in the country. Families are struggling, strangers are struggling, friends are struggling — in different ways to different degrees — and there is no end in sight. So please, do what you can, whatever that may be. This small gesture of providing fresh food today felt so grossly inadequate in the face of the magnitude and intensity of the current and mounting crises, but it was one thing that I knew we could do with a decisive, immediate, positive impact on the health of kids first and foremost, of their families, of the local economy, of the land, of our community, of our shared slice of earth. We made it through another day, though not all are so fortunate. Day by day. Count your blessings. Acknowledge pain. Choose light. Be of service, however that may look in your personal context. And please let me know if there is anything that I/we can do to support you — food or otherwise, here or there, now or as time progresses. I mean it. I love you.


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