The Lunch Ladies

Posted on by Rabbi Barbara Symons

Mr. Rogers says to look for the helpers. Today, I looked and what I saw was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

As part of the Monroeville Interfaith Ministerium’s work, we have a community arm called Community Network.  The mission of the Community Conversation is: “To strengthen the community by gathering information about needs and resources and addressing them through tools and information.” Included in our group are representatives of the school district, police, library, hospitals, houses of worship, RAMP, food pantries and others. Since the beginning of COVID-19, we have increased from meeting every six weeks, to meeting weekly.

Today’s goal was to bring a bit of joy coupled with resources. After gathering information about the United Way and programs to assist people with rent, we created a flier and during the Gateway School District’s food distribution at four sites over three days, we gave the flier together with a red, white and blue beach ball. I and my counterparts at the other sites were met with smiles and appreciation.

So who were these helpers? They were the Gateway maintenance staff who put up the tent and tables and they were the “lunch ladies.” For two hours, I sat near these three ladies who welcomed families, often by name, talked about how big the baby was getting, commiserated with current conditions and heard about job prospects. In-between clients, they talked and joked and shared concerns regarding the people who are not eligible for these meals. They talked about the “bad rap” that lunch ladies get, pinning it to the hair nets and the attitudes of previous generations.

Today, I thought that I was delivering a bit of joy but I came away with a smile and appreciation that is much fuller than an inflatable ball. Thank you, Gateway lunch ladies!

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