Wailuku, HI

Well, it’s a new year, but there’s no reason to stop volunteering. I went to the Maui Food Bank, joined by my co-worker Ashley and her husband, Jeff (who coincidentally were on Maui for their honeymoon).

We sorted and shelved food for a few hours. If you’re planning to visit Maui and want to give back, you can sign up on their website – http://www.mauifoodbank.org/

San Diego, California

San Diego Food Bank

We are immeasurably grateful to Xavier Hernandez, Volunteer Coordinator at the San Diego Food Bank for making room for two more volunteers even though he had a full volunteer team in place (yay San Diego community!). The food bank is a huge operation with a huge mission. We helped box food that will ultimately be distributed to nearly 800 elderly citizens in the San Diego area.

More about San Diego Food Bank (from their website):

The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County. Last year, the Food Bank distributed 22 million pounds of food, and the Food Bank serves, on average, 370,000 people per month in San Diego County.

The Food Bank receives food from the USDA, food manufacturers, food retailers, the agricultural sector, food drives, and through financial contributions that enable us to purchase protein-rich foods, fresh produce, and dry staple foods such as beans, oatmeal, and rice. We also benefit from the generosity of more than 28,000 volunteers annually that help to sort and distribute donated and purchased food products.

The Food Bank works to acquire, store, organize, and distribute food through a network of 330 nonprofit partner organizations that include food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless and residential shelters, youth programs, senior centers, and low-income daycare centers in communities throughout San Diego County.  The Food Bank also distributes food directly to those in need at 183 distribution sites throughout the county.

In 2010, the families of Joan and Irwin Jacobs and Stephen and Marjorie Cushman donated $1.76 million to pay off the Food Bank’s mortgage on our Miramar warehouse facility making the organization effectively debt free. To honor the generosity and long-term support of both families, the Food Bank was renamed the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

San Diego Food Bank on the web:
Website
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Gary, Indiana

Food Bank of Northwest Indiana

Gary, Indiana is a town I’ve driven by for years on my way to somewhere else. In the upper Midwest it’s a well known place, perhaps most known for its troubles after the decline of industry in the Rust Belt. I stopped by Chicago to pick up my lifelong friend, Cedric, to head the short distance to Gary, so the two of us could meet with the awesome volunteer team at the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.

More about Food Bank of Northwest Indiana (from their website):

Our mission is to alleviate hunger by acquiring and distributing food to people in need, promoting solutions that advance self-sufficiency and hunger relief, and leading our region in the fight against hunger.

Food Bank of Northwest Indiana on the web:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Twin Cities, Minnesota

Second Harvest Heartland

We stopped by Second Harvest Heartland in the Twin Cities to help prepare food for distribution.

Before beginning our shift in their warehouse, we were given a brief orientation including a powerful video about hunger, the challenges faced, and how Second Harvest is addressing the issue in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Thank you to Kate, Megan, Brenda, and Dan for joining us!

More about the Second Harvest Heartland (from their website):

Second Harvest Heartland works to reinvent hunger relief through leadership and innovation. As the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization, our goal is not only to help our hungry neighbors today, but to provide the means for everyone to be fed tomorrow. We’re known for distributing great amounts of food quickly and efficiently; in 2012 alone, we collected, warehoused and distributed more than 76 million pounds of food—but we’re also constantly pioneering ways to reduce waste and better use the abundant resources available in this land of plenty.

Second Harvest Heartland is a member of Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks serving every state in the United States. Membership means access to millions of pounds of surplus food and grocery donations from manufacturers and producers throughout the country.

Second Harvest Heartland on the web:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

 

Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks Community Food Bank

We stopped by the Fairbanks Food Bank to see how the organization and volunteers were serving the community in one of the farthest flung stops from home. I found an energetic and compassionate group dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of others, especially those spread out in communities with geographic accessibility challenges. Thanks to everybody in Fairbanks for being so warm and inviting!

More about the Fairbanks Community Food Bank (from their website)

Founded in 1982, the Fairbanks Community Food Bank collects and redistributes donated food to individuals and agencies. Food donations are received from the local community and about 100 commercial vendors. Food is distributed through many programs including Food Boxes, Bone Builders, and Agency Shopping.

The Fairbanks Community makes a difference in the lives of neighbors by sharing resources. The people of Fairbanks truly live the lessons taught by the Stone Soup Legend –– Fairbanks Style. The vision of the Fairbanks Community Food Bank is:

  • To have no one in the Tanana Valley die of starvation
  • To have no child in the Tanana Valley go hungry
  • To provide food assistance to everyone who meets federal poverty guidelines, if it is requested

Fairbanks Community Food Bank

Website
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Portland, Oregon

Oregon Food Bank

We visited the Oregon Food Bank in Portland, Oregon where we met a dedicated group of volunteers that not only work hard together, but also spend time together outside of the warehouse. They were a truly welcoming and loving community and it was hard not to immediately share in their spirit.

More about Oregon Food Bank (from their website):

We’re probably not what you expect when you think of a food bank. In Oregon, we do things differently.

We started off like most food banks did back in 1988. That’s when Interagency Food Bank and Oregon Food Share merged to become Oregon Food Bank, and we distributed USDA Commodity Supplemental Food to over 200 hunger-relief agencies.

Today, Oregon Food Bank collects food from farmers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, individuals and government sources. We distribute that food through a Statewide Network of 21 Regional Food Banks and approximately 970 partner agenciesserving all of Oregon and Clark County, Washington.

It seems like a big job, and it is. We absolutely couldn’t do it alone. But, distributing food is not the entire job. Like we said – we do things differently in Oregon.

St. Vincent de Paul on the web:
Website
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