That title is so bombastic it’s tempting to just link to Tubgirl and leave it alone.

The volunteer coordinator for the local food bank gave me something to ruminate on today when she explained the way the organization works to everyone helping pack food. The center serves over 500 hundred families on a near daily basis, providing tons of food (in the literal sense). Most of the food is donated in one way or another, from individuals, local organizations’ food drives, and a local grocer. Volunteers supply most of the labor for collecting, sorting, and then delivering the food to the center’s customers. The customers are referred by various aid organizations across the county and even by local school counselors and nurses.

Two things struck me - what a creative and networked solution this is to a tangible problem, and how, curiously, it would be rejected by purist Randians. The latter is of far less import, but it did occur to me, and ironically, I think the rejection would be at least partially wrong even within the Randian framework. Of course, Ayn “Every Novel Needs a Great Rape Scene” Rand would grimace at the talk of need as a valid motivator, in so far as it’s someone else’s need. A Randian would probably critique the unaccounted for payment provided to the person giving. It is yet true that the recipient has not in any form paid for the goods, however isn’t it tautologically true that the giver is repaid in good will or a feeling of civic engagement? After all, who would consensually give if they didn’t want to, i.e. no one would consensually give beyond the point which he or she didn’t feel somehow indirectly and spiritually compensated, for lack of a better turn of phrase.

Anyhow… while I don’t know how efficient the actual network is, or however effective with regard to the total population of those in need compared to a government provided alternative, it does seem to be a very good “organic” response. Customers are referred so they don’t have to worry about going into a county services office and they don’t have to go through a tedious application process. The community actively (at least semi-actively) sends these people to the center. The center then finds a way to meet those needs. The center itself provide an outlet for grocers to divest themselves of food that’s fit for consumption yet not fit for retail, who then benefit in more than just the aforementioned mystical-spiritual way.

More on this another time perhaps, all at once, descriptive and cogent.