The volunteer events at food pantries – at least for me – are always so impactful and gratifying. So much so, that outside of our monthly events, I’ve been doing it on my own! For this DE Volunteer outing, we were assisting clients at the River Food Pantry, doing something around the development issues of hunger, housing and health. It was a great experience for a great cause. From their website:
The River Food Pantry is Dane County’s busiest food pantry, offering free groceries, meals, and clothing to anyone who comes for help. Located in a warehouse just off Northport Drive and Packers Avenue, The River is surrounded by low-income neighborhoods and subsidized senior housing—exactly where they’re needed the most.
More than just meals, The River provides a warm and welcoming family atmosphere where everyone is treated with respect, encouraged to find the support they need, and given the opportunity to share what they can with others. The River feeds more than 600 Dane County families per week, going through 35 thousand pounds of food every seven days, or about 1.8 million pounds of food each year. In 2014, The River received 29,333 family visits, or about 90,993 individual visits. Approximately 39% of those served by The River are children. The River provided those guests with hot meals, groceries, clothing, and household items.
Unlike St. Vincent de Paul, another food pantry we’ve volunteered at a few times, clients can stop by for free groceries once a week as opposed to once every thirty days. They can also get a hot meal three times a week! It should be noted that both pantries are always busy too. So they need volunteers! Definitely recommend it, especially Tuesday and Thursday nights seem to have the most need. I will say, like many nonprofits we’ve helped out with, the staff and volunteers at the pantry were friendly, amazing and inspiring.
We had a rewarding time and it was an interesting approach to handing out the food. Interestingly, as opposed to St. Vincent de Paul where you help a client from start to finish, here (probably because it’s so busy), they’ve streamlined it to more of an assembly line approach. One of us got the carts ready, another along the way helping with one area, then another, a few weighing items, a few folks at meat and dairy, etc. I helped clients with bread all evening. Afterwards, a few of us enjoyed a nice hot meal there as well!
Until next time, enjoy pictures from the event as well as this neat video I found about The River from a 10-year old volunteer’s perspective: