Today we had our first experience volunteering with CHUM. The organization began in the early 70’s when ten community churches in the Central Hillside neighborhood worked together to meet basic needs of low-income residents within the neighborhood. Now, the organization provides emergency shelter, food, advocacy, outreach, and support for low-income residents of Duluth.
Neighborhoods are particularly special here. A lot of residents seem to identify with their neighborhood as much as they do the city and each of the thirty + neighborhoods have their own unique culture specific to their area of the map.
Through my work, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a lot of these areas and one thing that was immediately apparent was the large gap in economic equality as you move from West to East Duluth. When Mayor Emily Larson was elected to her role, she talked about the growing economic disparities between these neighborhoods and the need to shorten that gap to ensure all neighborhoods have equal opportunities. It’s a noble cause, and one that CHUM is working on daily to ensure the success of.
CHUM has a number of food shelves throughout town where residents can receive groceries for their families. At the food shelf downtown, they had a particularly large order coming in and needed extra hands to haul it off the truck and organize it onto the shelves. We had a great time helping out and learned a lot about their basic operations. One of the workers talked to us for a while about food waste. This specific location is recently under some leadership change. Before the new leadership came on staff within the last year, the man we worked with had to throw out nearly 500 lbs of food all dated back to the early 2000s. He said there previously wasn’t a focus on rotating items so older food continued to move to the back of the shelf while new stuff was put up front. The focus has since turned to ensuring as little food as possible is wasted and with the help of our organization and attention to their stocking system, they said this is possible.
We volunteered at CHUM in honor of Cooper’s grandparents, Pat and Larry Stillman. Thanks to their generous donation, Cooper and I can purchase our cook system for the trail and still have enough for twenty-five portions of dehydrated mashed potatoes (although maybe we’ll switch it up to something new). Thank you so much, Pat and Larry, we really appreciate both of you and your support of our cause!