How did I come to repacking produce on a Tuesday afternoon? I wanted to do my part for #ShareAMeal and support Project Sunlight. Their goal is to turn the tables on childhood hunger, because one in five children in America faces hunger. That is a horrible statistic so why can’t we all do something to help? So I went online and downloaded the Share A Meal Toolkit, which shows you how easily you can do your part to help. I am not exactly great around the kitchen, so I followed Project Sunlight’s suggestion to volunteer at my local food bank. I entered my zip code and up popped the Greater Chicago Food Depository! I was already familiar with this food bank, because my sister has volunteered there for many years, and I have given donations, but there are also plenty of hands-on ways to volunteer. It was about time I did more. The Greater Chicago Food Depository needs volunteers to repack the bulk quantities of food they receive and store, which are redistributed to soup kitchens, pantries and shelters. They also need help with loading dock work and drivers to deliver the food.
I signed up online one day and the next day I was there at the warehouse! Groups from businesses and schools often volenteer and it makes for a fun few hours of getting something done to help our community. First we were given brief instructions on our tasks. Some of the volunteers were to put together plastic serviceware and repack food for children’s lunches. Most of us had the task of going outdoors on the loading dock, which they said was a rather unusual opportunity, but on this blustery fall day we were all game!
We were equipped with gloves and (optional) lab coats. Trucks unloaded large bins of hard squash, which were picked on a farm by volunteers a few days prior. You never know what you will be asked to do, and most of the work is indoors, but you must wear closed toe shoes and it helps to be ready with layers of outerwear.
Some volunteers folded and taped up boxes, most cleaned off the squash by rubbing the gourds together and placing them in smaller boxes on conveyers. My task was to bring the boxes to the conveyor and label the boxes after the boxes were filled. Everyone had fun talking while working and laughing about keeping up as the conveyers kept moving. I think everyone should get a group together, large or small and volunteer at Greater Chicago Food Depository or a food bank near you.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository is Chicago’s food bank — a nonprofit food distribution and training center that provides food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in the community. The Food Depository, founded in 1979, makes a daily impact across Cook County with a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, mobile programs, children’s programs, older adult programs and innovative responses that address the root causes of hunger. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 67 million pounds of shelf-stable food, fresh produce, dairy products and meat…the equivalent of 154,000 meals every day.
No one should go hungry, yet nearly 800,000 people in Cook County are unsure when they will receive their next meal. The number of people our network serves has increased in recent years, but Greater Chicago Food Depository will continue to fight hunger until one becomes none.
Check out the Share a Meal Toolkit or come up with your own way to “Share A Meal” in your own community and share your story! The best stories and content will be shared on ProjectSunlight.us and Unilever Project Sunlight channels. Visit Project Sunlight here.
– Carol Calacci
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Tags: #ShareAMeal, Carol Calacci, Childhood hunger, End Hunger, Feeding America, Food Banks, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Project Sunlight, Share A Meal Toolkit, shelters, Soup Kitchens, The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Unilever