A day in the life of a food bank volunteer

ByDave Minnich, Food Bank Volunteer WTVD logo
Thursday, December 1, 2016

We are counting down the days to our ABC11 Together Food Drive collection day on Dec. 7th and leading up to the big day we are highlighting the growing need for help in our communities.

We are now less than a week away from the ABC11 Together Food Drive and we are encouraging you to donate online ahead of our big collection day on Dec.7!

Here's what a day as a food bank volunteer looks like at the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

5:25 AM: My alarm goes off for the first time... UGH! I know many folks are early risers, but I am definitely not one of them. But today is different. Today is the day of the Kids Summer Meals packing event at NetApp RTP!

Kids Summer Meals (also known as the Summer Food Service Program) is a USDA program that ensures that children in low-income areas continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations when they don't have access to school lunch or breakfast. The Food Bank sponsors this program in its 34-county service territory by providing feeding sites with breakfast and lunch at no cost.

I was excited about the chance to help out with this program, and knew that my fellow volunteers in RTP would be as well.

7:15 AM: I arrive at work, ready for the volunteers. We will be assembling breakfast and lunch kits today. Each breakfast kit is a paper lunch bag with utensils, cereal, and juice (other perishable items, including milk, will be given to the kids at the summer meals sites).

8:00 AM: The first-shift volunteers are here and anxious to go! Sixty-two people have signed up to help today. We spend the first 10 minutes explaining the project and then we're off.

11:00 AM: The first shift has come and gone, and the second shift of volunteers has been hard at work. We just crossed the 3,000 mark for packed and boxed kits! While that's great, it feels like we're falling behind our goal. However, our process has been honed, and it feels as if we are picking up steam.

12:15 PM: We finished up the morning shifts with a total of 4,560 breakfast kits complete, so we are definitely picking up the pace. The packing stations have been restocked and we're ready for the third shift of volunteers. But first it's time to grab a quick lunch before we gear up for the afternoon's push.

2:00 PM: A site-wide "y'all come help" email was sent about twenty minutes ago, and already additional volunteers are showing up to help out. Have I said lately how much I appreciate working with the sort of folks we have here in RTP? Oh, BTW, we crossed the 6,500 mark a few minutes ago.

3:55 PM: WOW! We have completed all the breakfast kits for a total of 9,795 breakfasts packed! The response to the earlier email has been tremendous, and throughout the third and fourth shifts we have had additional people show up. Now it's time for a change of pace. Lunch kits look similar to breakfasts, but the specific contents vary. Not a problem for our volunteers... we can do this!

6:15 PM: We completed a total of 1,170 lunch kits in addition to the earlier breakfasts for a total of 10,965 meals for the day! In addition to the sixty-two folks who signed up to help ahead of time, over twenty others joined with us throughout the day to help make the event a success. I continue to be amazed and impressed by my co-workers at NetApp. Given a chance to help they say, "Sign us up!" When challenges arise they say, "How can we make this better?" That "How can I help?" attitude is what makes NetApp one of the volunteer groups that the Food Bank relies on to accomplish their mission: "No one goes hungry in central & eastern North Carolina."