The Food Pantry hosts a steady stream of visitors: people from other pantries, from other cities and from all parts of the world who want to see how our community-run program works. We generally show them around, offer them something to eat, and give them a job so they can experience The Food Pantry first-hand.
This March, the Food Pantry was honored by a very special visitor–Archbishop Desmond Tutu! One Friday morning we got an unexpected text message from Dean Jane Shaw of Grace Cathedral, where Bishop Tutu had been speaking: Can I bring Archbp to see pantry?
We were just finishing unloading and setting up our morning deliveries when they walked in.
Bishop Tutu is a small, barrel-chested man with a great, contagious laugh: he darted around the pantry, chatting enthusiastically and asking a million questions of everyone, dodging huge unsteady piles of oranges, beaming at strangers. Longtime volunteer Nirmala Cádiz shyly walked over and bowed to him. “Excuse me, your Holiness,” she said, “But could I kiss you?” Bishop Tutu grinned and threw his arms open, and the hugging began.
All the volunteers rushed over to embrace him, to ask for blessings, to offer him food and tell him stories. It was amazing to introduce him to so many people from all over the world
who wanted to let him know they’d been inspired by the people of South Africa. “This is Valentina, from Russia…Juanita from Nicaragua… Michael from Liverpool…Eduardo from Argentina…Aida from the Philippines…Angela from China… Chris from Boston…” Finally Bishop Tutu asked if we could all gather close and pray together. “Thank you, God,” he said, gesturing at the bread, the vegetables. He looked at all of us, beaming. “You see,” he said happily, “When you are feeding the people, you’re feeding God.”
We are so grateful for Desmond Tutu’s visit, and so moved and inspired by his presence. A blessing indeed!