Friday, March 24, 2017

Our Last Day: Reloom and the Center for Civil and Human Rights

            Our fabulous day started with service at Re: Loom.  Re: Loom is a temporary employment program for homeless women with children.  The program provides full time pay, health benefits, and housing for these women looking to be self-sufficient.  They learn how to weave fabrics and learn employable skills for future employment.  Our service included prepping the fabrics to be weaved by cutting and organizing to make production more efficient. 

            After service, we had the opportunity to visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Downtown Atlanta.  The exhibits we saw include a worldwide analysis of human rights and civil rights, the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, and the Martin Luther King Jr. gallery.  The most astonishing and heart wrenching experience within the museum was the lunch counter sit in simulation.  During the actual event in history, a group of four college students sat at a “whites only” counter and were harassed by having insults, objects, and punches hurled at them.  The simulation allowed us to experience the horrors of what these peaceful protestors went through to gain their civil rights. 

            Following the museum, we went on to have our final dinner together.  We had the honor of visiting and dining at Chef Shane Devereux’s restaurant. Chef Devereux is also the chef at Café 458, the first stop on our trip. He welcomed us with open arms at his main restaurant, White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails. We all enjoyed the delicious food and greatly appreciated his generosity. 

Equality, Justice, and Peace for all! 

-Pranav and Jamoni

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 5: Metro Atlanta Urban Farm


Volunteered with Metro Atlanta Urban Farm at their home site and also at a local church.


Everyone completed a variety of tasks, including constructing the “hoop-house” structure, tilling the soil; pulling withering leaves off of crops, and clearing away debris.

Notable events:

The main farmer was extremely enthusiastic, passionate, funny, and positive, which made our experience all the more enjoyable. We also spent the whole day working with one organization, which was different than the rest of the week. It was nice to have some consistency, which allowed us to get to know the farmer better and really gather some momentum for our projects. It was nice to be able to put a full day’s work in and to look back at everything we accomplished over the course of the day.

In addition, we drove by lots of beautiful murals and street art, which we hope to see up close on Friday. The art is very colorful and complex, and can be interpreted in many different ways.


While we were traveling to the different sites today, I noticed the number of houses that were boarded verses the number of houses that were remodeled. Gentrification is a major problem in Atlanta. Neighborhoods have been completely flipped into apartment complexes.  I know that the work that our communities partners do in the city is very impact because without them, the homeless and hungry community members would be at a greater disservice.

Other comments:

Today we took a photo at the College Park sign in Atlanta.  After service, we came back and played several games of basketball! For dinner, we had breakfast food: Lots of pancakes, bacon, sausage, and collard greens that we picked from the farm!
On a side note, Atlanta’s street art is out of this world!

-Darrell and Dan

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day 4: ACFB's Product Rescue Center and a Fun Afternoon in Atlanta!

The day started at the Project Rescue Center at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The bank had just purchased several pounds of sweet potatoes, and our job was to sort, weigh, and package as many as possible. The potatoes were all considered too “damaged” or “ugly” to sell, but we were happy to distribute them. Afterwards, we took an afternoon to relax. We got lunch and had an excellent time at the Georgia Aquarium. We saw dolphins, whale sharks, otters, jellyfish, and many other exciting creatures!


At the PRC, we packaged 750 boxes, over 11,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, and enough food for 9,750 meals. Over the past few days, we’ve gone to churches and other places that receive food from the ACFB, and when we visited Urban Recipe on Tuesday, we learned that they would receive fresh produce Thursday. That produce is most likely those potatoes, and it’s great to see this food being distributed in pantries, but then actually getting to package it. It’s good that we know it’s being used.


 -Imani and Hannah 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 3: Urban Recipe and Metro Atlanta Urban Farm

After some extra sleep in the morning the team was well rested for another day of service. Arriving early at the first service site the team had some time to look around the surrounding neighborhood, and admire some of the very unique houses. This service site was called Urban Recipe, so I was personally expecting to enter into a kitchen. Instead we were welcomed into a Co-Op consisting of men and women of the community packaging and sorting food that they would eventually take home. Before we did any service we sat down to prep and discuss the work and history of the Co-Op with Mr. Jeremy. We were joined by a class from LeGrange University that had come down for the day as a required part of their class.

After being prepped we headed back down to work with those in the Co-Op. The service consisted of talking with the members of the community, transporting food from the truck into the church, and placing food into individual boxes as instructed. Pranav, Darrell, and myself had a different job than the rest of the group. We worked outside clearing trash, cardboard, and the remainders of a shed where a homeless man had once stayed for twenty years. As our time at Urban Recipe came to a close we joined into a large group prayer led by members of the Co-Op. They prayed not only for many social issues, but also for us, which was something many members of the team were touched by.

After a quick lunch in the vans we got to Metro Atlanta Urban Farms. We were immediately greeted by some incredibly friendly and personable people. Mr. Kareem, Mr. Korega, and Mr. Bobby welcomed us as if we were old friends. It was a very hot day, especially for us some Maryland, but we immediately went into the fields with rakes and pitchforks in hands. Over the next three hours we all worked very hard either watering plants, raking and transporting compost, or having eight people working to put one nail in over the span of an hour. We all loved talking to the men that worked there, but were happy to be able to relax and drink some Gatorade at the end. We will be back there on Thursday to work with the same organization.

All in all it was a great day. This was clear since everyone wanted to take naps when we returned to the house. A great meal, and conversations with friends over dinner, followed by reflection, was a great way to end the day. We have now seen food being grown, been to a Wal-Mart where food it sold, toured a massive food bank where Wal-Mart donates much of it’s food, packaged food at a local church, and then today we saw people picking up their food and taking it home.  Wish us luck as the thunderstorm approaches. Looking forward to more service tomorrow, and seeing many of the great parts, and people, of Atlanta.

Challenging Moment- Putting a single nail into place. Took multiple people close to an hour to achieve this goal.

Surprises- How many people, and how long it takes to put one nail in place

Accomplishment- Putting a nail in place


Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 2: Food Distribution Network

The Bank

Today, we explored the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) through a tour and hunger workshop. The facility handles 70 million pounds of food each year and distributes the food to community partners in 29 counties.  They are currently outgrowing their 129,000 square foot building, but their work expands beyond their walls.  The food is distributed through a system of 600 community partners where it is donated to a food bank which then distributes it to food pantries which then distributes it to individuals in the community.  

After our tour of the facility, where we learned a lot about the utility of banana boxes, we sat in on a hunger workshop.  We discussed the different connotations of the words "hunger" and "food insecurity".  Some people present the argument that saying someone is "food insecure" rather than "hungry" downplays the issue by making it less urgent and less personal.  After that discussion, we did an activity where we had to make healthy daily servings of food on a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) budget which is only $4.53 per person per day.  After completing this, we discovered that each student group had access to different food sources based on their "location" in the activity.  This led us to speak about economic inequity within Atlanta and how expensive it is to be poor.  For example, people who don't live near a grocery store, or can't afford to travel to one, have to spend more money at a convenience store for less product and fewer options.  In our discussion about the minimum wage, the entire AB group was surprised to learn that Georgia's minimum wage ($5.15) is much lower than the federal minimum wage ($7.25).  


The Pantry

With one of ACFB's community partners, Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center (SWEEAC), we assisted in sorting and unloading food donations that they were receiving for the day.  It was a great opportunity to witness where the food from ACFB actually goes and how the people at SWEEAC work closely with people in the community.  The regular volunteers showed us the ropes and very graciously shared their experiences and stories with us.

The Dinner  

To bring our day with the food bank full circle, we sat down with AB's umbrella organization, Break Away, to have our own meal at the end of the day.  It was nice to share stories and experiences with our topic, food security and about life in general.  

Overall, it was a very fulfilling day 2! Onwards and upwards to Day 3!  In perpetuum gratus!  

-Pranav and Shannon

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day 1: Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency

The Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency helps clients secure permanent housing, offers employment readiness and job placement, including personalized case management, professional clothing, transportation assistance, and personalized case management. Café 458 is a resource center for homeless men and women, and serves as a place where they can be treated as guests at a restaurant and have a choice in what they eat. On Sundays, they are open to the public as a fully functioning restaurant serving brunch with a professional chef. All other staff- from dishwashers to servers - are volunteers. These brunches provide on-the-job training for ACSS’s clients, builds awareness of the programs, and all proceeds go directly to supporting ACSS.

Today, our group dutifully worked the brunch shift. From 10AM to 3PM, we rolled silverware, seated customers, took orders, ran food, served guests, bussed tables, and washed dishes. For those of us who never had restaurant experience, this was an eye opener to how much effort it takes to insure good costumer service in a bustling environment. It was great interacting with a diverse costumers group of customers and telling them about the restaurants charitable efforts.

Ultimately, we all went in with a desire to work hard and serve the Atlanta community in anyway we could. I believe the experience we participated in today fully met if not exceeded our expectations. The food was amazing, the place was packed, approximately $2000 was raised, and all for a great cause.

-Giuliana and Yasmin