Harpo’s Lunch Box
In lieu of the school funding, city council granted Sam approval to pilot his Lunch Box idea at one school. It could be a huge win for the community and inspire confidence in philanthropy. The funding was minimal but he would be allotted extra wages for hired help.
Sam asked Curtis, if he had contacts from the Black Panther days to consult.
“I betcha I could rustle up a couple of guys from Kansas City but you’re looking at one of em right here!” Curtis said, with both thumbs pointing to his chest.
“Wow really? You would help?” Sam was thrilled. “Tell me what it was really like Curtis?” he asked.
“Sure. I only know what I know. It was in Oakland 1969. Apparently some of ’em kids, had never had breakfast before the Panthers started serving. That was the sweet part. Justifiably the Panthers were always watching to see how the program could get them political inroads. They had the ulterior motive to fuel the Black Power revolution, so they weren’t perfect saints,” Curtis said.
Sam was on the fence about the second part of the Panther agenda. He didn’t want to replicate the politics but if peaceful political action resulted, then fine. Sam’s program would be sincere, without hidden agendas. He wasn’t interested in risky stuff, like other vigilante groups might be.
He had approval to run the pilot, out of County Elementary on South Decatur Street. They used Curtis’ Panther experience and a proactive attitude Sam gleaned from Tom Horsley. The intention of the Lunch Box was to generate excitement, in the children instead of focusing on poverty.
Sam managed the food logistics, straight out of his manufacturing textbook from grade 12. Flyers were printed and distributed to local black businesses, with Sofia and other church ladies helping. Volunteers requested food donations from grocery stores and prepared food free of charge.
To offset budget funds they passed the church basket around twice, once specifically for lunch donations.
With Sofia and Harpo on board, beloved hermit Martha stepped out of her tortoise shell, to participate in the daily soup menus! She had somehow been awoken, by the exhilaration of good deeds.
The biggest obstacle was daily deliveries, until his often crotchety father Harpo stepped up to the plate, with a freshly signed van, Harpo’s Lunch Box Truck.
Students wound up referring to the lunch program, as Harpo’s Lunch Box referring to the highly visible sign painted on his truck.
“Here comes Harpo’s Truck, Harpo’s Truck. Here comes Harpo’s Truck!” they could be heard shouting at 11:00 a.m. sharp.
Sam was beyond touched by the program’s initial success.