My Experience at a Pet Food Bank
For sterilizing neighborhood cats through a local non-profit (Alley Cat Advocates) I'm eligible to receive free cat food through a pet food bank.
I hadn't prepared myself for the food bank experience; I hadn't been aware I needed to prepare myself.
It was similar to walking into a food stamp office, which I have done, once in my life; when we first moved back to Louisville, Ky with a 6 week old baby, my spouse nor I had a job, so we received food stamps (an EBT card technically) for 6 months, til' we got on our feet.
Back to the pet food bank, I circled the block 3 times before slowing down enough to identify a shabby warehouse as the No Kill Louisville Pet Food Bank (even though the GPS kept insisting it had the right spot and, of course it did!). The food bank was in what most would consider a lower-class neighborhood; lots of little liquor stores, bus stops swarming with awaiting passengers, some sleeping or passed out, stray cats aplenty and lots of people hanging out on front porches.
One house in particular caught my eye, it was a small, somewhat dilapidated house but was vibrant with love and laughter- the front fenced-in yard proudly displayed a Happy Birthday sign strung up on faded flags, there were a couple dozen people sitting in metal, fold-out chairs, grill ablaze in the background. I was reminded of the fact that poor people often don't have much but they often do have each other.
I parked in the spacious parking lot of the Pet Food Bank and noticed my car fit right in there... old and faded.
I entered the open warehouse and was instructed to go upstairs to wait my turn.
Upon entering the upstairs waiting area my heart began beating a little faster. More than a dozen people were waiting for food... for their own pets. Perhaps one other lady was awaiting cat food for doing community cat TNR (Trap Neuter Release) like I was but that was it. There was no privacy upon being called up for your turn so I heard time and time again the request for proof of pet sterilization and income. Those are requirements for receiving free pet food- you must prove you're low income and that your pets are spayed or neutered. The free food is available based upon donations received. Thankfully, Blue Buffalo is currently a major sponsor of the Pet Food Bank.
The people awaiting assistance clearly needed assistance
Many were living on social security. A few people seemed just quirky enough to likely have had some emotional or mental health issues that prevented them from working, for how long, one can only guess. One couple had a young daughter, both man and woman worked full time but still qualified for the food assistance due to low income.It was an interesting, striking and humbling experience. There were no magazines to read, no tv, just waiting. The 3 staffers diligently processing paperwork were volunteers.
One woman in particular caught my attention. She saw the world through gold-colored glasses. She was skinny, wrinkly, as if having had enjoyed tanning a lot during her younger years, and perhaps 65 years old. Were she 40 years younger her attire would be considered of the hipster variety. But as an old lady wearing hand-woven, colorful, wool socks with short black boots and knee-length plaid shorts and a halter top she simply looked eccentric and semi-homeless. She stood up, began coolly pacing the room and saying, "I just can't sit down for long. It can't be good for you, the blood, the circulation, everything slows down. My feet go numb. My legs get tingly. It can't be good for you!"
"I feel the same way," I chimed in and gently smiled at her. A panicked awareness hit me- indeed I felt exactly the same way- I saw myself in this eccentric, old, lady.
I get anxious in closed areas like that waiting room. I cannot stay seated long. I've been that way for as long as I can remember. Before long I was up walking around, and doing squats. I chatted with the lady about dew points. She rattled on about how everyone talks about humidity but it's really the dew point that affects everything, she had just learned that a couple of years ago she said. -Interesting enough.
Women Should Have Desk Jobs?
My brain drifted as I looked over the room demographic... all but one of us were women, most older than 50, all seemingly a little quirky but nice, people that likely have lived rough lives. Then I wondered, does not being able to sit still as a woman have something to do with not acquiring wealth?
I mean, my girlfriends and the women in my family that have 'good jobs,' professional jobs, have office jobs, sit down jobs. Their asses are planted in front of computers the grand majority of the time. That's something I cannot do. I simply cannot do office work. I've tried time and time again at different intervals in my life only to be stricken with panic attacks and crying on my way to work. I've always said, "For me an office job is the equivalent to clocking into jail every day."
Everyone is different but that's just the way I am.
Fortunately I found my calling working in animal welfare, where I was almost always on my feet running around. Now I'm a mom to a toddler, always running around, and a part time dog walker. It's all good. I'm happy. I'm grateful. I'm so grateful.
I doubt any studies have been done on my hypothesis of women that can't sit still not acquiring wealth in their lifetimes but, someone should conduct such a study.
As for the food bank, God bless everyone involved in this miraculous, life-saving initiative.
It was heartwarming and sad all at once.
If you can help out- please do.