Greater Boston Food Bank

Saturday was Volunteer Day with The Next 26 at the Greater Boston Food Bank. If you have never been to this gigantic 117,000 square foot warehouse on South Bay Ave in Boston, you will be astonished (as we were) by the overwhelming size and scope of this incredible organization.

Greater Boston Food Bank Shelves

Entering into the main lobby, I noticed this symbol on the wall,

Greater Boston Food Bank X Symbol

which is there to pay tribute to Kip Kiernan, a social activist whose grandmother fed the hungry during the Great Depression. After eating, upon leaving her grandmother’s  home, the people would mark an X by the entrance to let others know that it was a safe house. Kip was the founder behind many of Boston’s great service organizations, including Rosie’s Place, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and Boston’s Emergency Shelter Commission. To read more about this incredible woman, click here:

Kip Tiernan

Once entering the distribution center, you are facing vast shelves stocked with food and supplies, two stories high, stretching as far as the eye can see.

Greater Boston Food Bank Warehouse Shelves

41 million pounds annually are distributed to eastern Massachusetts families and children. Folks, the statistics are staggering. 8% of the population in eastern Massachusetts are hungry- one of every four are children.  This food bank provides meals for 475,000 on a daily basis, just for eastern Massachusetts!! There goal is to provide one solid meal per day per person, distributed through the various hunger-relief agencies scattered throughout the commonwealth.

Greater Boston Food Bank Stats

Our job, for this day, was to sort frozen foods that had been donated by various grocery chains and stores. We were to open the boxes, sort them, then have them weighed (each was to be between 34-37 pounds), seal them up and move on to the next box. (Oops, Coach, you’re just a bit over on that one!)

Greater Boston Food Bank Coach Weighs In

We had been forewarned that we would be lifting 30# boxes repeatedly, and they weren’t kidding. Two long tables were set up, and forklifts started bringing over palettes stacked with the boxes filled with a variety of assorted frozen offerings-everything from gizzards to prime rib were available to sort.

Greater Boston Food Bank Sorting

We opened the boxes, sorted the foods into new boxes labeled Poultry, Beef, Processed (sausages, etc), Misc (frozen meals), Pork and finally, garbage (these were products with ripped packaging, browned or frost bitten meat, etc. The general rule of thumb was “If you wouldn’t want to eat it, then no one else should-toss it! We filled two gigantic crates with those throwaways!)

Greater Boston Food Bank Discards

Initially, during our orientation, our supervisor made a comment that we didn’t have quite the number of volunteers he had expected, so we would get done whatever we could, but we would stop working at noon sharp. But what he underestimated was the grit and determination of this hardy crew of workers, some with groups, (like our 14 Next 26 participants!)

Greater Boston Food Bank Next 26 Team

others just kind-hearted individuals willing to give up a Saturday to work for the greater good. We grabbed our work gloves, (these make quite a fashion statement, no?)

Greater Boston Food Bank Fashion

and cracked open the first boxes at 9:25 am, cranked up the music and began the sorting process. The supervisor kept mentioning we should take a break, because it was hot, and we were working so hard, but we were so determined to finish our shift, that just wasn’t happening! At 10:30, He finally shut us down for 15 minutes to grab a cold water (thanks for providing that GBFB!) and take a breather in the air conditioned break room. Quickly back in the warehouse, the time just flew by, and suddenly, at 11:42 AM, there were no more boxes to sort! We had, our little band of 41 volunteers, sorted and repacked 20,195 pounds of frozen foods!!! Which, I am so proud to say, translates to these stats:

Number of meals made possible:12,423

NET pounds of food salvaged: 16,156

Total pounds sorted per volunteer: 492

NET Meals made possible per volunteer: 303

Our leader, Ann, was so grateful for the amount of work we had done in such a short time.

Greater Boston Food Bank Ann

We were so grateful for the opportunity to give back just a little. Knowing that what we had accomplished in so little time was going to touch so many lives was a bit overwhelming and so very gratifying. If you are interested in volunteering at the food bank, click here for info.:

Greater Boston Food Bank Sign

Even if you can’t do the grunt work, there are plenty of other ways to help too! For all of the Greater Boston Opportunities available, including donating food, money or partnering, click here:

GBFB Donate

A special thanks to the amazing folks at Greater Boston Food Bank, who strive to feed so many people that otherwise would go hungry. And also thanks to our team leaders, Chris Mathison

Greater Boston Food Bank Chris Mathison

and Nicholas Leydon, the co-founders of The Next 26, who organized this volunteer effort.  The Next 26 is a non-profit that was founded to bring Boston together in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings, raising awareness and funds for the One Fund Boston. Their goal? To raise $100,000 in 26 volunteer and fun-filled events in the months leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon, in hopes of raising money and awareness of the great city we call home. With Event #3 under our belts, it’s on to event #4 at Fenway Park! For more information, or to join in the movement, click here:

Next 26 1

Have a great Sunday, everyone. It’s a birthday and anniversary celebration day (34 years today for me and Coach-amazing!!) for us! Stay cool and strive to do one thing today to give back! Susan 

Comments

  1. So much fun! And now I know how to tell a good frozen turkey neck from a spoiled frozen turkey neck. The more you know!

    Like

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