Sunday, January 20, 2013

Volunteering at the Food Bank

I first became involved with the Greenville, NC Branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina when I became a member of the Junior Women's Association.  My first volunteer experience there was during Kid's Day. Spending 2 hours of my Saturday morning with kids sorting through pallets of potatoes was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life.

My first Kid's Day was in 2011, right after Hurricane Irene hit North Carolina.  There were only a few kids there that day, but the ones that showed up to volunteer were so precious.  They were a group of children from a neighborhood that had set up a lemonade stand to raise money for the Food Bank.  They raised over $200!  Then, they came to volunteer to see first hand how their money would help local families.  Our activity for the day was bagging potatoes.  We basically had to dig through gigantic bags of potatoes, weed out the rotten ones, and bag them in smaller, family-sized portions.  This is not a task for the nervous stomach! However, these kids went right to work and actually enjoyed what they were doing.  They made comments like "This bag will feed a big family!"  They didn't complain the whole time and kept saying how happy they were to be helping out.  It was amazing to see a group of children that were so willing to do something to help other people.

When I got home that day, I looked at the Food Bank's website and saw that they have a Social Media Ambassador Program.  I knew that this was something that I could get behind. I love Social Media, so why not use it to spread the message of the Food Bank and to help out. I haven't been as active on my blog, but I do tweet a lot, and share things on Facebook about the Food Bank.  I'm sure there will be more blog posts about the Food Bank coming this year.

Last weekend, I volunteered for another Kid's Day.  This time, there a lot more kids there.  A lot of them were in high school, but there were some younger ones there too.  One family, drove from Emerald Isle, which is about 2 hours away for their son to volunteer.  Greenville is only one of 3 branches that has a Kid's Day opportunity.  This time, we were also sorting and bagging potatoes. I took pictures this time so that you can get a better understanding of the massive amount of potatoes I'm talking about. The potatoes have to be brought into the sorting room by a forklift.  They are donated by some of the Food Bank's many partners, such as farms and corporate partners.

We then work on sorting through the potatoes and bagging them to be distributed to the Food Bank's partner agencies, which then give them to needy families. The rotten potatoes are thrown in a waste bin, and the good ones are bagged in mesh bags. (Be glad that you can't smell this bin... it's not pleasant!)

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina serves 34 counties (that's about 1/3 of our state), and the Greenville Branch serves 10 counties.  The numbers of people that are suffering from hunger are alarming.  Current statistics state that 560,000 people in those 34 counties wonder where their next meal will come from, and 190,000 of those are children.  Last year, 45 million pounds of food was distributed to partner agencies by the Food Bank.  It is amazing how the Food Bank can stretch a dollar!  For every $1 donation, the Food Bank can provide $10 worth of food, or 5 meals.  

If you are local, please consider donating to, or volunteering at the Food Bank.  If you aren't local, find a Food Bank in your area and get involved.  No one should have to go hungry in this country.  I'm sure that there were 100 things that those kids could have been doing on a Saturday morning, but they chose to spend a couple of hours giving back.  We should learn from their example! 

I love being involved with the Food Bank! It is truly a rewarding experience.

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