Milk It For All It’s Worth

Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I was brought up believing that if you help out or do something nice for somebody..just do it and shut up about it.
So, I’m sort of going against my raisin’ here by mentioning that Linda and I joined with other members of our church last week serving at The Banquet in Sioux Falls.
I only bring it up because the feeding ministry has a special need..which I’ll get to later.
I’ve done lots of stories on The Banquet for KELO over the years but this was the first time I’d ever actually taken part in the process of getting up close and personal with the people who go there to eat.
They were already lining up when we arrived..nearly an hour before  the doors officially opened at 6pm.
Unlike the old facility downtown, there is room at the new one at 8th and Indiana for guests to come inside and out of the elements.
“Man, they must really be hungry or just have nothing else to do,” I said under my breath as we entered the back door to receive instructions, work assignments and a prayer.
“Please keep in mind that these people are our guests and to be treated with respect,” said Dan who, along with his wife, Lyndia are two of the unpaid Banquet staff members who regularly guide volunteers through their paces before each meal. “When it’s your turn to eat, go sit with some of the guests,” said Dan. “Don’t preach to them..just visit and “listen” to what they may have to say.”
I’d rather just work in the background..I thought. I’d be happy to do dishes. I have no idea what to say to these folks.
“Doug and Linda, we’ll have you serve beverages, okay?” Dan said. “We go through a lot of that’ll keep one of you busy.”  Linda grabbed the milk jug before I had a chance..leaving me with the task of pouring water and coffee which aren’t nearly as popular.
That left me ample time to stand there and observe the operation and appreciate the efficiency of it.
Then I saw a couple of the guests motion for me to come I did, with water and coffee in hand. But they weren’t thirsty. “Doug, how’s retirement going?” one of them said. “We watched you on the news for years and miss seeing you.”  
I almost said “What are you doing here?” before it got through my thick head that The Banquet isn’t just for the homeless and destitute or those with various physical and mental challenges. It’s also a gathering place for folks who may be down on their luck or just plain lonely.
Who among us has not been there?
I’m afraid I stink as a beverage server but really did enjoy doing the very thing I’d been dreading; sitting down and talking with the guests.
Linda, on the other hand, was hopping all evening on the milk detail..which brings me to the point of this whole thing.
Milk is one of the Banquet food services biggest expenses and it recently lost the supplier that was providing it for free.
It just seems to me that a place that provides such a wonderful service should not have to worry about paying the milk bill and there may be somebody out in blogland able to alleviate that concern.
For information on who to contact and find out more about The Banquet  CLICK HERE to check out it’s web site and give ‘em a call.
By the way, I guess we were there on a pretty slow night; just under 300 guests served including about 30 kids. But like Dan says, winter’s coming and when the temperature goes down..the guest list goes up.
I hope they don’t run out of milk.

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