The Measure of Your Work

The Measure of Your Work.

By: Max Groce

To be honest, when I was told that I would be volunteering at the food bank I automatically assumed that it was the Memphis Food Bank.  A lot of people make this association when they hear the Mid-South Food Bank but from what I learned today I was very much mistaken. The Mid-South Food Bank doesn’t just serve the hungry in Memphis; it serves 31 counties in three states. This is not just food pantries either, this includes soup kitchens, shelters, youth and senior programs, rehabilitation and residential centers.

Good People

Good People

I drove to their center on South Dudley Street in the morning; I arrived and was quickly ushered into the boardroom with Ms. Paula and some volunteers from Kellogg’s that were going to be working with me today. Paula quickly filled me in on the history of the Mid-South food bank about how they fed close to 186,500 people last year and how they rely on volunteers for pretty much all the work that is done from the center that we were at.  We walked out into the hallway where we stand waiting for her to start our tour.  I notice a woman facing a huge window in a make shift office out of file cabinets, I ask Paula are most of the people that work here volunteers and she said yes. She tells me that volunteers often offer their special services like the lady by the window who was obviously doing some sort of data base retrieval and scheduling.  She takes through a white door and then when on the main floor of a large warehouse, surrounded by large pallets of food. While she’s taking us through the warehouse, there are people working all around us on forklifts pulling orders for the day. I think about how these orders that they are pulling are going all over the mid-south to feed the hungry.

Dr.Fry getting it done

Dr.Fry getting it done

Paula tells us when you think of food banks you think mostly about nonperishable foods, but the fact that I didn’t know is the Mid-South food bank is one of the only places that can accept fresh produce and meat due to their large refrigerators and freezers. We make it past the ware house to an area that looks like a grocery store and the other volunteers and I start sorting through large crates of food that is called salvage.  I start sorting out cake and hamburger helper while I laugh with the other volunteers about how they’re disappointed that there are not a lot of Kellogg’s products to sort. We put them into carts and then begin to take them and put them on the shelves and slowly try to straighten up the aisles. I do this for about two and half hours and then the Kellogg volunteers leave and I’m not far behind them.

The Food Bank Warehouse

The Food Bank Warehouse

I consider myself a pretty skilled individual, anything you ask me to do I can pretty much do. That’s from helping you paint walls to searching large data bases using semi complex computer programs. But today I learned that its they don’t always need the complex skills, sometimes the most helpful things that you can do is the simplest things, like simply sorting out food for the hungry and putting in on shelves. Paula tells me that this part is almost completely done by volunteers and It makes me reflect on truly every little thing that you do when you volunteer truly does help. I’d like to end this blog with a quote that Paula puts at the end of her emails and that is, “The heart of a volunteer is not measured by size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job as a business analyst. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: mailto:jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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Feeding the Hungry

Mid-South Food Bank

During my Odyssey week, I had the privilege of learning more about the MidSouth Food Bank. The Food Bank has three major target populations: children, families, and seniors. The Food Bank has several initiatives for each target population in order to ensure they are consuming nutritious meals on a regular basis. In the Food Bank service area, twenty-three percent of children are considered to be food insecure. The Food Bank has two large programs that allow children to receive nutritious meals. They have three Kids Café locations which each provide nutritious meals twice a week as well as teach the children about the importance of nutritious eating. They also have the Food for Kids BackPack Program. This program provides a backpack filled with nutritious, child-friendly food for children to take home for the weekend. Each backpack contains six complete meals as well as fun nutrition information activities.

The tree is covered in cards that event goers can purchase to help the Food Bank fill backpacks for their program. The tree was displayed at their Miles for Meals event

The tree is covered in cards that event goers can purchase to help the Food Bank fill backpacks for their program. The tree was displayed at their Miles for Meals event

For their feeding families initiative they have a program called Hunger’s Hope. Hunger’s Hope distributes food to different food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, youth programs, senior programs, rehabilitation and residential center throughout the MidSouth. They also have a Mobile Pantry which allows direct delivery of fresh produce and frozen meat to underserved communities.

More than eleven percent of those receiving assistance from the Food Bank are seniors over the age of 60 (over 20,000 seniors). Seniors are the fastest growing group of food insecure individuals. In order to help the seniors in the MidSouth, the Food Bank has the Senior Grocery Program. Each Senior Grocery food box contains food for a senior to prepare and consume at home. Each box contains enough food for one month.

I volunteered to help at the Mid-South Food Bank’s Miles for Meals event, which was a Walk/Run fundraiser for their organization. While there, I had an opportunity to meet their Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Rushing, who took the time to introduce me to multiple team members including their CEO Estella Mayhue-Greer. I ended my day by helping at the ice cream booth.

The MidSouth Food Bank is well on their way to helping ensure each member of our community has nutritious food to eat. On September 19, 2013, the MidSouth Food Bank is having an event called “Stuff a MATA bus.” This event will be held from 8a.m.-5p.m. in the Poplar Plaza Shopping Center. The most needed items include: Money (1$ can provide 3 meals), canned soups and stews with meat, tuna, peanut butter, canned vegetables, and canned fruit. If you would like to contribute to their efforts, please stop by and donate canned food items.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job as an educator to children and adults with special needs. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: Mail to jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com or Leweaver0428@gmail.com

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If you like our work, please consider making a contribution to keep it going!

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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