How to Get Involved With Your Local Food Bank

May 7th 2016

Working with local food banks can be very gratifying and offers a sense of purpose for those willing to lend a helping hand. Many unique roles are available for volunteers, and it's usually simple to forge the connections needed to get started.

Your Neighborhood Food Bank

While most food banks are happy to accept volunteers from around town, finding the nearest low-income food distribution center will make helping out much easier. The Feeding America website directs you to the nearest food banks based on your ZIP code. After you decide which locations you are interested in working with, simply contact them. A quick phone inquiry can help you figure out the staffing needs at any of the food banks you may have chosen. Stopping by can be helpful too, as doing so allows you the chance to familiarize yourself with those who you may work with, as well as see what duties are available.

Volunteer Needs of a Typical Food Bank

A number of different positions are required to keep food banks running smoothly. Like most charitable organizations, volunteers are critical to keeping operations functional. A variety of tasks must be accomplished each distribution day, including unloading trucks, sorting food, manning the verification desk and handing out food. As you gain experience, you can decide which jobs are the best fit for your skills. If you are very organized, you may find that you enjoy stocking and sorting the input materials. Volunteers with strong social skills may thrive out front, helping recipients navigate the food bank and gather vital resources.

Your Future and Food Distribution

Well-trained, compassionate staffing can make a huge difference in how well a food bank runs, so consider becoming a long-term volunteer. As such, you become a valuable member of the community in a way that can be quite fulfilling. Volunteering with any organization may sometimes pave the way to a paid position in the future. Reliability is often a key factor in the decision-making process, and volunteers who have a true passion for what they do often find opportunities become available. Manning the food hotline, running nutritional classes or becoming a purchaser are all opportunities that may lead to a paid position. The more familiar you become with your local food bank, the more chances you have to grow with the organization.

Food banks provide supplemental food for low-income or otherwise struggling families and individuals. Allocating food helps those in need and provides a necessary resource for survival. Unlike cash assistance or other programs, food banks address hunger directly. Food banks rely on volunteers and donations to function, and they exist as a social safety net. Working with your local food bank helps to provide a vital community resource and provides a positive function in society that can lead to great opportunities down the line.

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