The Food Resale Hustlin' Biz

Tiny - Posted on 04 February 2014

Thursday, January 30 2014. Before I begin this article I apologize to the Asian guy with the cigarette who cursed me and Mr. Lynn out when overhearing me say, “Yeah, they all look the same.” What he didn’t hear me say before that was, “just as we [black folks] all look the same.”

Damage done. Mr. Lynn asked him for a smoke after my overheard comment. Of course, he refused with an “F” bomb.

Let me explain. I’m not very observant (on purpose). This is why I‘m not an investigative reporter and instead write columns.

Saturday, January 25 2014. I didn’t expect to write this column. Oh, well.

Sunday, January 19 2014. James Memorial United Methodist Church. Late September last year I found out about a few churches in the Fillmore district, including this one at 1975 Post Street. Another church is across the street and around the corner two or three blocks.

I’ve got my backpack, bus pass, and two sturdy plastic bags in case extra food or empty glass bottles are around for recycling. Arriving late to the church for groceries around 10am, I see lots of Asians, whether they’re Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Phillipino, I don't know. A few Blacks and Browns, but mostly Asian and you can count the Black and Brown people on one hand.

Tuesday, January 28 2014. POOR Magazine Newsroom. Phillip Standing Bear comments on this point in my story. He says, “As poor folk always in struggle, I respect, not envy, the Hustlers known as Mama Sans.”

Back again to Sunday, January 19 2014. In line there is a color code of red, blue, green, pink, orange, and yellow badges. I guess they stand for those who’ve signed up for groceries, to prevent their getting skipped over in the line. What’s supposed to happen, is after the people in line get their bags of food, the unsigned-up (us) wait to get our chance.

As Mr. Lynn and I wait at the church gate, it's Mr. Lynn who sees what happens. Lynn says, “This line’s getting longer, I can’t tell who’s got food but it looks like they’re doubling back for seconds!” I’m not as observant but he may have a point. The line does seem to be longer, looks like some of ‘em were reloading.

Tuesday, January 28 2014.  Ms. Ingrid de Leon comments: "I’ve entered a community food disbursement space without being conscious of the community that resides in the area. I saw there were flowers in the bins…I took what I wanted without asking and was told, 'JUST ONE!! ONLY ONE!' That’s when I realized that I need to be considerate and think first before entering a space with services for people who may have a bigger need than I do."

Back finally to Sunday, January 19 2014. “They go in, get out, get back in for more food, then they resell the food all over again; I’ve seen 'em before,” Mr. Lynn said to me. After an hour or so the line begins shrinking. We get our bags of groceries. We go to a second church to eat an early 11:30 lunch.

That’s when the “They all look alike" comment is overheard. We go our separate ways.

Tuesday, January 28 2014. POOR Magazine Newsroom.
I bring up what happened last Sunday. POOR Magazine poverty scholars comment on our story, including Ms. Ingrid and Phillip Standing Bear.

Queenandi X adds, "I believe that all people of color living in poverty should unite and help one another out – Black, Brown, Red, Yellow– it’s fine with me. The only problem that I have is when other 'nations' come into our already impoverished neighborhoods and suck up our resources for their benefit. Due to racism, there is no give and take, meaning that you can come into our hoods and suck us dry, but we cannot come into your neighborhood and receive the same services because of the colors of our skin."

Thursday, January 30 2014. This renegade food pantry brigade is predominately Chinese Immigrants and they have language and immigration barriers to deal with. They work well, are very organized and work well together. Unfortunately they make it difficult for people who need the food as much as they do– messing up an opportunity for others to get it! How can we make this work for everyone when everyone has their own hustle?


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