Beyond the Donation Bin

My first visit to the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) was a great experience.  We packed 7,689 pounds of food, enough for 6,407 meals.  Those of us fortunate enough not to worry about where we are going to get our next meal take for granted that there will be a next meal.  In this Costco-sized facility, you begin to get a glimpse of the other side.  

This was my first food bank experience that didn’t end with bringing a canned good to a donation bin.  I now have some idea of what happens next.  All packages have to be inspected to make sure they’re not expired or damaged.  Chocolate and baby food are removed completely, although there are some gray areas like semi-sweet chocolate chips, which apparently count as food.  Items are sorted into categories and packed together into boxes.  Those boxes are then weighed and labeled for distribution.  Items that are not used are recycled.

I came alone for my volunteer duty, but in order for the session to be successful, everyone needs to work as a team.  There were some other corporate volunteers, and for the second half of our shift, a high school group showed up.  That ramped up our productivity significantly.  During the session, you start to become more efficient at your task, discovering shortcuts that speed up the process.  Repeat volunteers often take the same position.  I think I’m better at sorting now, but it might be fun to try a different position next time.

I think the ACFB would be a good volunteer day activity for our company as well as other companies in the community.  It fosters teamwork and generates awareness of an important cause.  I appreciate having the opportunity to donate my time and encourage others to do the same.