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Yesterday it was really exciting to see the food pantry take shape. Firstly tarpaulins are spread all over the floor of the rotunda. Then tables are set out all around the edge. The food is brought in on pallets and laid out in a well ordered sequence. I was packing bread rolls and bagels into small brown bags with a young seminarian (the American equivalent of an ordinand or someone studying theology) called John. He is on a field placement from his college at the General Hospital on the chaplaincy team and it was his first time helping as well. It was lovely to chat and work together. Several other people joined us as well. When the bread is all packaged it is loaded into large plastic trays which are then put on the tables. Someone is responsible for judging how much food is there, eg how many oranges, how many bunches of celery etc and then it is divided so that there is enough to share among 500 or so people. So each person might be offered 4 potatoes and 2 oranges, for example. There were about 30 volunteers who mostly know each other but who are extremely welcoming to newcomers. They have a coffee break and we went outside into the Californian sunshine. I chatted to Ginny, Mike, David, Carmela and several others. Paul and Sara were cooking lunch in the kitchen for the volunteers and we all sat down to lunch before the Pantry was opened. Just before 12.30 I sat by the tinned beans and as people started to come in I offered them the beans as they came round with their bags and trolleys. The fresh fruit and vegetables are offered first in line, then the tins, then the dried goods, this week it was brown rice, pasta and a ready made cake mix. There was a lovely man giving out these things called Stuart who was able to tell me a lot about the Pantry as he has been involved for several years. After that came the pasta sauce then some packaged cakes and sweets, but not many of those, then pastries and bread, eggs and tomatoes. The atmosphere was joyful and there was a genuine interest in and welcome for the people who came to get the food. Many of the volunteers are people who originally came for the food and then felt able to volunteer. People give their names as they come in but are not required to give any proof of need. The Food Pantry has been running for 12 years now and the organisation is incredibly efficient. I am full of admiration both for Sara and Paul and for all the people involved in it now.