There’s a well-honed tradition at North Texas Food Bank’s Plano warehouse for the volunteers to follow when packing boxes with food.
One recent morning, a 19-member volunteer team loaded boxes with nonperishable food items – shelf-stable milk, soup, cereal, juice, canned beans, pasta, canned fruit, peanut butter, raisins, and more.
Each box they filled had to weigh 31.5 pounds. If it didn’t, it went back to quality control because that would mean some food item was missing. The boxes moved among a conveyor belt, then were weighed, loaded onto a forklift, and then shrink-wrapped. Eventually, thousands are packed and delivered by Island Harvest to senior citizens across the region.
Why Volunteering at Food Banks Make A Difference
Volunteers are helping the food bank package 4,000 food boxes a month, says the president and chief executive of the food bank. He and officials at the area’s other major food bank said such partnerships – not only with corporate volunteers who give time and money but also with several local hospitals – enable them to have a greater reach to help the local food-insecure population, which by one 2022 estimate was well into the hundreds of thousands of citizens.
“Packing 4,000 boxes is a lot,” he says. “We have a small staff. There’s just no way to achieve the needs of this project and the food needy in our community without volunteers.”
Giving Back at Food Banks
Among the retirees who volunteered recently is a retired teacher who now lives in nearby Denison. She’s been volunteering with North Texas Food Bank for almost 10 years. She was moved to do so, she says, out of a sense of wanting to help the community.
“This is one that definitely speaks to every community because food insecurity happens everywhere, whether it be schools, whether it be seniors,” she says.
Another volunteer said that when he was growing up he and his family received help from various social services programs because his mother was single and disabled. Now he wanted to give back and felt compelled to pitch in.
“I enjoy doing this,” he says. “It’s important that, since I have the capacity now, I can give back. My mother does receive food every month and it really makes a difference for her. Volunteering gives me the insight to see first-hand the incredible difference I can make for others who need the help and support.”
There are food banks across the country looking for help. Organizations like food banks are always looking for volunteers. During this Thanksgiving season, showing appreciation for all that you have by helping others is a wonderful idea. Consider pitching in. It can be a win-win: the organization gets the help it desperately needs to fulfill its mission, and you get an opportunity to contribute to others and make a difference. The food bank certainly isn’t the only organization that needs volunteers. Talk to your association to see what volunteering is needed this holiday season or throughout the upcoming new year.