Every year, it takes thousands of volunteers to sort and repack the food that Food Lifeline supplies to its more than 350 food banks, shelters, and meal programs. These volunteers are critical for supplying food to those experiencing hunger. For many years, this system has fed millions of people and families.
Then came the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic landed crushing blows to Food Lifeline. Within weeks, it doubled the number of people needing food assistance. People who had never visited a food bank in their lives were now waiting in line at public food distributions, hoping to secure enough food to get them through the week. To make matters worse, the lockdowns left Food Lifeline without the volunteers to help them move this much-needed food.
Even with social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols in place, finding volunteers to do this important work created a tremendous challenge.
But thanks to corporate volunteer teams like US Bank, the food found its way to those that needed it.
In September of 2020, volunteers from US Bank began staffing sort and repack sessions at Food Lifeline’s Hunger Solution Center. With a commitment to their community and a dogged determination, these volunteers showed up and suited up.
According to US Banks’ Kristy Dickson, her team understood the struggle Food Lifeline faced. Dickson says, “When COVID-19 hit, we knew that many of the regular volunteers would be in a vulnerable demographic and wouldn’t be able to help until they were vaccinated. We wanted to step up and fill the gap.”
Since they began volunteering, US Bank employees have logged nearly 2,000 hours of service. Their average team size is ten volunteers, and every session they sort and repack thousands of pounds of critical food products.
“They come ready to work”, says Food Lifeline’s Kevin Fischer. “They’ve done it so much that they get here and they got right to work. It’s impressive how hard they work.”
While each volunteer understands just how important this work is, US Banks’s Tiffany Fritchman now understands just how close to home her work lands. “One time after volunteering at Food Lifeline I was in my neighborhood talking to my neighbor. She had been receiving food from the school lunch program at our local school drive-thru. She asked if I needed anything and showed me the box that she had received. In the box was the same brand of bread that I had been sorting at the warehouse the day before. It came full circle for me that day.”
Whether it’s sorting 600-pound boxes of potatoes or repacking granola and rice, the team from US Bank keeps moving food. Volunteer Carolyn Partsch says it’s a part of the culture of caring at her bank that starts at the top.
“We work for a great company that encourages us to volunteer and have amazing managers who support us to volunteer in the community. It was only in the last couple of years that I have taken advantage of volunteering and what kickstarted it was being asked to schedule a group of volunteers and joining. After that, I was hooked and genuinely enjoy volunteering at Food Lifeline.”
Food Lifeline offers its sincerest thanks to the teams at US Bank, for all of their hard work, for their dedication, and for proving yet again that hunger doesn’t have to happen.