With so many problems in the world, there are more ways than ever for volunteers to make a difference in their communities. While the choice of volunteer opportunities is vast, most base their decision on causes or issues they are passionate about.
At Blessings of Hope, we’re passionate about feeding our community. We know that many aren’t aware that across America over 42 million people live in households where there isn’t enough food. Sadly, over 13 million of these people are children. But food scarcity isn’t just a problem for the very young. It affects older Americans, too, with nearly 10 million senior citizens over the age of 65 experiencing food shortages almost every day.
While these statistics are daunting, we know firsthand what it’s like to make a difference. As a food bank for food banks, we distribute an average of 25,000 meals per day through a variety of partnerships with local ministries, local outreach programs, and our Hands of Hope program. This might seem an impressive feat, but we’d never be able to do it all without the dedication of over 1,900 volunteers.
So, whether you’re a high school student interested in adding community service hours to your college application, a parent who wants to pass the values of giving and service to your children, or a concerned community member looking for a good cause, we’re here to tell you that volunteering at your local food bank can and will make a difference!
Here are some little-known ways to put your skills to good use and participate in volunteer events at your local food bank.
How Can I Help My Local Food Bank?
While many think of serving food when they consider volunteering at a food bank, there are a lot of other ways to help. In fact, the vast majority of the work done at local food banks happens behind the scenes.
Every food bank needs to store the food they have in order to provide the food to the people who need it. The simple act of stocking shelves and organizing inventory is a great way to get started at your local food bank.
Sort & Repackage Food
Many food banks receive food in bulk from a variety of sources. They always need volunteers to break down large quantities of food into smaller portions, so it’s easier to distribute the food they have.
Some food banks visit locations throughout their community to distribute food to those who need it most. This might mean traveling to a local business, park, or house of worship, or visiting homes throughout the community. No matter how outreach is done, it’s a great opportunity to see your volunteer efforts in action as you distribute food to the hungry. At Blessings of Hope, we run local outreach programs every week and are always looking for volunteers.
Truck Drivers (CDL and non-CDL)
Driving a truck might be the furthest thing from your mind when you think about volunteering at your local food bank. But, the fact is that the food can’t get where it needs to go without transportation. That means many food banks need truck drivers to deliver food to outreach locations or pick up donated food. Both CDL and non-CDL drivers are needed.
Truck & Equipment Maintenance
This is another volunteer opportunity you may not have considered, but every food bank that uses its own trucks needs to maintain their equipment to keep it running smoothly. If you have mechanical skills or are studying to be a truck mechanic, volunteering at a local food bank could be the perfect way to practice your skills and gain valuable experience.
Every food bank has an endless list of cleanup chores to complete every day. From sweeping or mopping floors and tidying the stock room or warehouse to washing dishes, emptying trash, or cleaning bathrooms, you’ll find plenty of cleaning and maintenance work at most food banks.
How Old Do You Need to Be to Volunteer at a Food Bank?
While every food bank sets their own guidelines, volunteers usually need to be at least 16 years old to volunteer on their own. Younger volunteers are usually welcome, as long as they are accompanied by a responsible adult, parent, or guardian. Be sure to check with the food bank in your local area to confirm their age requirements.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to feeding the hungry than simply serving food. There’s a lot of preparation, organization, and cleanup that goes into delivering food to the people who need it most. Volunteering at your local food bank can provide many opportunities to learn new skills, meet like-minded people, improve your social skills, and build teamwork, all while supporting your local community and making a difference. Based in Lancaster County, PA, Blessings of Hope is a faith-based food distribution warehouse serving area ministries, food banks, and the local community. We currently work with over 1,900 volunteers and are always looking for caring, responsible individuals to help us spread the gift of hope!