One of my strengths is that I’m organized. Some would posit that I’m overly organized and that it verges on a severe form of OCD. To that end I usually keep it confined to my home. Sparky is well aware of my need for order. He approached me a month ago and suggested that I need to “pitch in” and volunteer more at church. Sparky asked if I could come with him to the church food pantry – just to take a look and possible make a few suggestions for organizing it. It was the thing of nightmares for an OCD sufferer. It was a mess. The shelves had been labeled but things were haphazardly stacked here and there. I went home and thought about it.
Since then I’ve been back three times to organize the pantry. They have a “shopping list” that tells them what they should get based on the number of people in the family. So I organized the shelves to match the order of the items on the shopping list. That seemed like the logical thing to do. Then I organized the foods in each category by expiration date having the shortest dates in front and the longer dates in the back. It boggled the mind. Then I had to make some additional labels. You see people donate items and sometimes they are not the standard fare – such as the people who donated 10 bags of candy, 4 cans of chocolate pudding, and chocolate covered caramel corn. Families with children in financial straights don’t have money to splurge on non-essentials. I ended up with one shelf labeled “Sweets/Treats” where I put all the cookies and candy, pudding and popcorn and a variety of other treats (can you say Pop Tarts?) that could be doled out in moderation.
That left 2 shelf units for the remainder of items. These were personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, and paper (toilet paper) and plastics. It was a mess. But it is now all organized. I was even able to have a shelf dedicated to baby items. I think the non-food items were the hardest to organize.
The final step was to actually clean. The pantry has been “maintained” by men. To that end the floor had not been swept in, well, forever! So I had to sweep and knock down *Shudder* spider webs. I found 4 containers of mouse poison bait that were so old that there was a thick layer of dust over the top of the contents. I suppose that is good? I take it to mean there are no rodents. Or it could mean that the rodents are avoiding the poison and snacking on the pantry supplies!
Then I tackled the little storage bin with its 3 drawers. Ack! I’m lucky I didn’t get injured. In the top drawer were 2 box cutters, one which didn’t have the blade retracted. Then I found a razor blade that had been wrapped with plastic and taped so that one edge was exposed – just thrown into the bottom. It is obvious that the “guys” are making up their own safety rules as they go… The things in the storage bin were mostly junk. It is now clean and tidy.
The last things that needed attention were the freezer and the refrigerator. Not only did the exterior need a good disinfecting but the interior too. It was too big a job for me to defrost it alone. So Sparky was pressed into service. The end result is that I will be volunteering once a week to go in and put the newly donated items on the shelves, rotate stock, and make sure everything is clean and tidy. I’m hoping the pantry will be “whipped into shape” soon. Sparky suggested I need to “document” procedures so that no one messes with my system….