Gift #686: Gleaner’s Food Bank

Yesterday I participated in a wonderful opportunity.  My employer sponsored groups from various departments to fill backpack sacks at Gleaners.  This is a large food bank distribution center that provides food to several hundred food pantries throughout central and south Indiana.  At their main location, they store and distribute the food, run their own food bank, fill backpacks and food boxes for children and senior citizens, and send out mobile food banks for those that can’t get to the facility.  It’s a busy place!  My department’s team filled food bags yesterday morning.   These are distributed to children so that they can have food during the weekend.  Gleaners provides food assistance to over 260,000 people.  That’s 1 in 8 of the population!  I had no idea that so many were in need of food assistance in my area!  An information video we watched before starting our shift said that nearly half of those they serve are children or senior citizens.  When they interviewed a little boy saying how happy he was to have food to eat over the weekend, it broke my heart.  I was really happy to have the opportunity to volunteer there not only because we were able to help fill sacks, but because it opened my eyes to a need I was only marginally aware of.

After the training video, my team was guided through the warehouse to the “bag loading” area where several tables were set up with boxes of different food items.  12 people were stationed along the tables to fill the bags as they moved down the line.  6 people were responsible for restocking the snacks as we filled up the bags, and a few were in charge of quality control and packaging.  I was in charge of adding fruit juice boxes.  🙂  We got organized and mobilized into action at the “go” signal.  I should add that this was also a competition among the groups, so we were motivated both by altruism and a desire to not embarrass our department by coming in last.  Wow, did our team move fast!  Bags flew down those tables so quick you couldn’t even really think about what you were doing.  My arms just sort of took over and left arm would grab bag and sling it down as the right arm was dropping in a juice box.  Then as left arm reached for the next bag, right arm would  grab another juice box.  And so it went for 3 hours.  We would hear periodic updates, such as “4 pallets loaded” – a pallet was 240 bags.  At the end, we were completely exhausted, but very happy.  Our team had filled over 2400 bags – the most any team had done and we had the smallest group of volunteers!!  That came out to filling 124.9 bags per person.  The highest up to that point had been 103 bags/person, so we really did a great job!  It was wonderful of my company to encourage us to volunteer and to want to be a part of their community.  I’m very thankful that my company values that.  And it was great to see my department work so hard to be a blessing to others.  I’m grateful to have had a part in it and hope we’ll be able to do it again very soon.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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