The Capital Area Food Bank…More than a Building - Capital Area Food Bank
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The Capital Area Food Bank…More than a Building

By Marian Peele August 16, 2012

As a child, I remember attending Sunday school class every morning at 9 AM at the East Capitol Street Church of Christ in Northeast DC. My teacher was Sister Julia Johnson and she taught me a rhyme, along with the accompanying hand gestures, that illustrated what the church actually was: “Here’s the church, and here’s the steeple. Open the door and see all the people.”
She followed up with the message that while our church building was nice, it was just a building where the church, members and visitors gathered on Sunday. She would say, “An empty building can’t sing, or pray or serve those in need. Only people can do that.” The church, she would enunciate agonizingly slow as my classmates and I squirmed in our seats, is… the …people! Sister Johnson believed in rote learning and we were taught this lesson every week. I think of her words often even though I no longer attend East Capitol Street and Sister Johnson is no longer with us.
Sister Johnson’s lesson was especially on my mind when we moved from our Taylor Street location to our new food distribution center. On Saturday, July 28, staff reported to the new facility to unpack. On my way, I decided to drive pass the Taylor Street building. There was no activity, no cars, no trucks and no people. Taylor Street, I mused, was no longer the food bank. It was just a building and a rather sad and lonely one at that. Without a backward glance, I headed to join the rest of the food bank staff that was gathered less than a mile up the road.
The new food distribution center is remarkable. There is space galore with plenty of offices, meeting rooms, an unbelievable teaching kitchen and warehouse racking as far as the eye can see. Everything is brand new and shiny but this place, while amazing, is nothing without my coworkers, our wonderful partner agencies and especially all of the people we serve through our network of partner agencies and direct distribution programs. Without the people, it would be as sad and lonely as our former, unoccupied Taylor Street building.
So thank you, Sister Johnson, for this valuable lesson. See, I really was listening.