Reportage:

ACAI Juice for the Elmshorn Soup Kitchen visitors:(Elmshorner Tafel)
“Drinking alone is lonely”

by Esther Dymel-Sohl

MonaVie-Team (Foto: A. Krampitz)

It is shortly before ten o'clock in the morning on June 18th, 2013 and the sun lights up the lively hustle in front of Lornsen Street 53 in Elmshorn. “We can let the first four in soon”, the soup kitchen boss Claudia Redmann instructs her staff. In front of the Christus-Zentrum Arche (the 'Ark' church) building, about 40 people are standing around waiting to go in four by four to take home groceries that have been donated by supermarkets and companies. 

Large Donation

Esther Dymel-Sohl giving a case to "Tafel" worker Andreas Vasel (Foto: M. Planer)

The American company MonaVie has donated 680 bottles of their MonaVie 'Original' juice, worth more than 20,000 Euro to the Elmshorn soup kitchen. 

Andreas is a staff member for the soup kitchen and today he is responsible for the smooth running of the distribution of groceries. He gives out numbers to those waiting at the door – like they do at government offices. The people are called in according to their number. “This way we can avoid arguments amongst the visitors about who was there first and who pushed in”, he says.

Of Public Interest

Newspaper Journalists at the Tafel (Foto: A. Krampitz)

While more and more Soup Kitchen visitors arrive joining the people waiting in line, two journalists enter the building to report about the large MonaVie donation for the public. In the newspapers 'Elmshorner Nachrichten' and 'Holsteiner Allgemeinen Zeitung'  they want to report about the team of independent distributors that give the bottles, at no cost, to the visitors. They would like to motivate other companies to support the soup kitchen by donating products.  “The best-before date on the bottles is July 2013”, explains Barbara Lohse from MonaVie. “The company had to decide whether to throw the ACAI juice away or to do some good with it”.  Soup kitchen staff and guests are interviewed, the cameras go click, click, click and an air of excitement is spread around.

“Numbers one to four please!”, Andreas' voice echos over the parking lot of the church. Hurriedly the visitors hand in their numbers and can chose their fruit, vegetables and bread. 

For Those in Need

In early 1998, the city of Elmshorn asked the 'Ark Church' if they would be prepared to offer a warm meal to homeless people and those not very well-off financially. Since then, this offer has expanded to include food distribution in the mornings.  At the moment there are about twenty staff members, mostly voluntary, who work for the soup kitchen and see to it that about 80 meals at one Euro per meal are given out and that the food distribution is staffed. Pastor Hans-Peter Mumssen is the leader and coordinator of the soup kitchen: “Many of our former guests have become valued staff members which gives them a good part of their self-esteem back. Hence, it follows that the Elmshorn soup kitchen has a strong therapeutic influence. “

Meanwhile, the soup kitchen visitors numbers one to four are coming over, with full bags, from the grocery table to the MonaVie stand to stock themselves up with the ACAI premium mix. Everyone gets a case of four bottles tucked under their arm. 

Integrative

Giving away the bottles (Foto: A. Krampitz)

Many soup kitchen visitors can hardly speak any German. The distributors have, therefore, put an effort into finding a Russian and a Turkish translator. “Because the MonaVie juice is not a 'normal' juice, but rather should be drunk in small quantities, it is important that the visitors are told in their own native language that they only need to drink 30 – 40ml of the ACAI juice mix a day to ingest the recommended daily amount of antioxidants” says Elke Rieger-de Boer, a MonaVie distributor. She is a nutritionist, has taught many courses about nutrition at adult evening school and knows what she is talking about. She also adds: “Just 120ml of MonaVie contains the same amount of antioxidant as 13 portions of fruit and vegetables.”

"Drinking alone is lonely..." (Foto: Edyso)

The soup kitchen visitors come from various backgrounds. One lady moved here a few years ago with her entire family from Afghanistan as they fled from the Taliban. Her adventure-filled flight led her over Russia to Germany – with 4 small children in tow.  The hardships she faced on her journey are etched into her face. She came to the soup kitchen with her neighbor. A smile flits over her usually very tired countenance  as expresses her thanks for the juice. Another guest loves living in the little house around the corner. He had never owned such a valuable juice, he says beaming with joy.  “I will share the case with my colleges. Drinking alone is lonely,” he reckons and laughs. 

Give and You Will Receive

In the meantime it is midday and the lunch service has begun. There is mashed potatoes with Bratwurst, and for dessert : A case of ACAI juice.

At 1pm everything is over. The kitchen is clean again, the vegetables have been peeled for the next day, the crockery is washed up and the MonaVie cases have been given out. 

The MonaVie distributors  are still standing around together reviewing the day. There is one thing that they have in common: They are filled with the many positive encounters with people who live on the edge of society. They could experience how to bring joy to others and be blessed, themselves, at the same time. The Biblical principle of “give and you will receive” was fulfilled before their very eyes.  Exhilarated they make their way back home and the sun laughs with them.