View RSS Feed

Just Babbling

Soup van

Rate this Entry
When I was in New York, I had this chance to ride with the soup van. You know, that sort of van that drives around the city, distributing free food to homeless and poor.

That night the van I was in served the Bronx. I was in town for more than a week, but never been to that area. We passed the bridge, I saw the big bright stadium. I heard alot about Bronx, not really nice ones. When I saw that stadium, I thought the area couldn't be that bad. Well, I supppose the stadium was the only nicest thing I seen, least compare to the places I saw afterwards.

I suppose Bronx is more like the industrial area (don't know much about it). Felt gloomy as we drove by. At some point, the van stopped. We got down, I hardly see anyone. But then the guy who drove the van honked the horn couple of times. Like a church bell calling the congregation to come, suddenly I saw people coming, not sure from nowhere. They started to make lines behind the van. My job was to distribute the plastic bag for them. Each got one plastic bag, each will get a small loaf of bread, a mini-milk, an orange, and soup in little styrofoam bowl.
That was my first time. I was bit nervous, scared too to be very honest. Some staring at me, loooking at me with this look. Some smiled, said how are you, and said thank you. We had to limit the number because we needed to do more stops. We had to make sure we had enough for all stops.

They said, due to the financial crisis, they have to lessen the stops and routes. Before, they could have up to 5 stops. But since the economy got hit, they had to reduce the numbers. One time, not enough food in the van and the guys decided to collect some money and bought burgers from McDonalds for the next stops.

This experience gave me a deep impression about America. I know there are poor people too in the States. Sounds very naive, perhaps, but I wouldn't expect to have so many people lining up for food. There might pro and con about this (they are actually not that poor, etc). It's really an irony for me as it wouldn't be as surprising if I were doing it back home in Indonesia. Guess, when you see poverty every day, you'd get immune to the feeling and would start to consider that as a part of your life reality. But coming from developing country, with all this perception about USA as the world's super power, made this experience an unforgetable one.