When our team of volunteers from Blackboard arrived at the Capital Area Food Bank we knew we had a sweaty, dirty job ahead of us and we were excited about it. Before we rolled up our sleeves and snapped on our latex gloves we got an orientation to the mission and reach of this vital link in the welfare of the working poor in our nation’s capital.
Hunger and malnutrition in America is real. Some might find that statement oxymoronic, especially in light of the frequent studies about growing obesity in this country. Hunger and malnutrition isn’t always visible, it is all around us and rarely discussed. Hunger’s negative effects can be seen in schools, at work, and in homes. Children have a diminished capacity to learn; adults can’t work as effectively; and seniors are more prone to illness.
The Capital Area Food Bank was founded in 1980 to provide food and nutrition education to residents across the DC area. Annually they distribute nearly 30 million pounds of food to more than 478,000 people (nearly 1/3 of them children) directly and through their partner network.
Grocery stores from across the region donate un-saleable but usable goods – canned fruits and vegetables; pasta, rice and other dry goods; personal hygiene items; paper products and other household items. These donations benefit everyone – grocery stores save on waste disposal and can better manage their inventory, landfills save their capacity, and needy DC area residents gain access to free nutrition and other resources.
The donation boxes that arrive at the Food Bank are filled with assorted items. Our task last Wednesday was to sort the hundreds of boxes into logical categories (e.g., pasta sauce, canned fruit, diapers, baby food) so they can be re-packaged and distributed to food banks throughout the region. During our 3 hour shift we discovered that the loads were heavy, the boxes were often grimy, we got pretty sweaty, but it was a very rewarding experience.
We moved ~25000 pounds of donations – that is about the size of two full-grown elephants! You can see photos of us in action at the food bank. Consider donating food, your time and energy to your local food bank. We all benefit from your help!