It’s a Friday afternoon, the sun is shining, and folks from every walk of life are walking down our street towards their individual destinations; a runway of activity.
     My husband arrives in a little red Toyota truck full of bread, fresh vegetables, bananas, and odds and ends: a small box of environmentally friendly diapers , 2 containers of natural dish soap, and a bag of organic flour.  As he begins to unload the boxes onto our porch, neighbors start inquiring.  “What time are donations going out today, I need to go and get my reusable bags”? “Do we have any green tomatoes today?” “Do you know if there are strawberries in the delivery?  “I sure hope that corn is back this week.  That was great.”
     After he sorts the donations, he pulls out food for the shut-in neighbors and those he knows have the biggest need but won’t be home until later in the evening and will miss the distribution.  He sets them aside.  He walks down to the edge of the yard and sets the donations out as one by one familiar faces arrive.  We all start to talk at the same time. “How was your week?” “What are you planning to make with this?” “Do you have any recipes for kohlrobi?” “Who needs the diapers?”
     I ask new faces if they need a bag, while the “regulars” explain the ropes. “The donations are only for people in our neighborhood.” “Take only what you need, someone else might need more this week.” “They do this every week.”
Justice House
     In the few years we have been GleanKY Neighborhood Ambassadors, we have seen a lot of love.  A grandfather who recently gained custody of his 7 grandchildren said “You have no idea how much this helps our family.  I can feed the kids because of this.  Sometimes, the assistance just isn’t enough.  These kids grow fast.”
     The single woman fighting addiction, who comes over to help in the garden as well, spots a find we missed. “This toilet paper is a miracle.  How did they know I needed this so badly?”
     The hardworking single mom, with 3 jobs who misses her daughter’s performance in a neighborhood  talent show because her boss will not allow her to take off work, picks up a bunch of bananas and shares. “I’m making my daughter a banana cream pie with these.”
     We build relationships and community around food.  We don’t just hand out these donations to those in need and move on.  We create opportunities to share stories, sit on the porch together, invite one another for meals, and share life. Sharing this food isn’t about charity, it is about our humaness and our sameness.  No one is better than anyone else as we stand around the food and converse.  We all have needs.  Conversation.  A smile.  Kindness. Community. In these moments we are not defined by our poverty, our food desert locale, or our need.  We are neighbors, and that is all that matters.
Justice House 24 Hours for Justice

This blog post was written by GleanKY’s first Neighborhood Ambassador, Tanya Torp. To learn more about the Neighborhood Ambassador program, contact us at