What kinds of people dedicate their time to re-packing frozen peas, labeling instant oatmeal, or sorting through food drive donations? The best kinds of people - Food Lifeline volunteers! Every year, more than 13,000 volunteers give their time and talent to help end hunger with Food Lifeline. Because April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, we'd like to honor our incredible hunger-fighting volunteers by sharing a few of their stories.
“When you work with people who’re doing things for others with their own time, it gives you faith in the people in your own country,” Bud says, describing his volunteer experience with Food Lifeline.
Bud, 77, first got involved in our hunger-relief work through his church. He’s always felt it’s important to help others, and after more than 60 members of his congregation came together to give their time in Food Lifeline’s warehouse, he began visiting regularly to help.
For years, Janet identified as a businesswoman, working to grow her woven textiles company. She later transitioned from this role to being a full-time parent to her son. When he grew up and went to college, Janet was ready for her next adventure.
When it comes to volunteering, Rachel Rosenberg is a rock star. Since February, Rachel has dedicated 2-3 of her mornings every week to helping out in the Hunger Solution Center – racking up over 100 hours of food sorting!
“What Food Lifeline is doing is really important and where it’s at with what it’s doing is really important,” Rachel says. “As a society we tend to chuck [the food], but there’s no reason why someone can’t eat that food and that is perfectly healthy and safe.”
It is 10am on a Wednesday. The setting is the cavernous Food Lifeline warehouse where 20 Farmers Insurance claims adjusters are sorting surplus food. Why are they doing this? In a nutshell, because it feeds their souls.
And they are happy to weigh in about the inherent satisfaction in reducing hunger.
For Joe Burns, sitting around doing nothing is not on his bucket list.
But volunteering – in a big way – is.
Five days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., you’ll find Joe in the Hunger Solution Center, assigned to the Fresh Rescue Department, where he sorts food.
Joe grew up in Minnesota. After years of working up the sales chain – first inside, then outside, then district, then regional manager – Joe became general manager of a materials-handling company.
It was through his wife Cindy that his life changed markedly.
Teri Rutledge and her team of fellow Villa Academy teachers are committed to educating their fourth grade students about the issue of hunger. For children at this private Catholic school in Seattle, the learning experience has been eye-opening and rewarding.
At the beginning of the year, Ms. Rutledge starts by teaching her class about the reasons people in their community are hungry. Once they understand some of the causes of hunger, they engage in an ongoing discussion of how these same children and families can gain access to the food they need.
Some years ago, the Rev. Jim Eichner was volunteering at a church’s farm project that was so successful, the surplus was donated to food banks.
“That’s where I started to get the idea,” he says. “Instead of giving food banks what’s left over, give them first pick.”
Thus was born Food Bank Farm, a ministry of Redmond’s The Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross, where Father Jim is rector. Food Lifeline is a major recipient and a major supporter of the farm program, which is dedicated to raising produce to help food banks fight hunger.
Some people run marathons, some people volunteer at food banks, but very few people combine them like Jess Kurti does.
Her goal? Nothing short than volunteering at each of the 200 food banks across the Feeding America network and running a marathon in all 50 states.
While Eli may be only 9 years old, he’s already making a huge difference in the lives of people in need. Eli's love for biking goes way back, starting when he was just 4 years old and biking 12 laps around a loop in his neighborhood park in Seattle. But even from the start, Eli used his biking to ask his friends and neighbors to make pledges of support for charities. This year for his 6th Annual Bike-a-thon, Eli chose Food Lifeline as his charity and biked a total of 15 miles! Eli enjoys biking and inspiring other people to do good.