As with all food banks, volunteers are the lifeblood of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. We could not achieve our mission to end hunger in Orange County without them. In 2014 alone, 18,000 volunteers contributed nearly 100,000 hours of service. Outside of traditional volunteer opportunities like sorting and packaging food donations, there are three unique opportunities we offer to our community – volunteering at the Incredible Edible Farm, in Izzy’s Corner, the children’s area of our warehouse, or, for our more dedicated volunteers, a position as a volunteer captain.
The Incredible Edible Farm is an intensively-farmed 4.5 acre plot that is a unique and innovative answer to the challenge of not just feeding people facing hunger, but providing them with highly-nutritious, top-quality produce grown. It also connects our volunteers, both children and adults, to our mission and gives them an unforgettable experience that connects them to the agricultural elements of our county’s roots. Volunteer projects include planting and harvesting fresh produce and assisting with daily farm maintenance. In its first year of operation in 2014, 4,000 volunteers contributed nearly 10,000 hours of volunteer support. This resulted in planting more than 15 different seasonal crops and harvesting 228,864 pounds of produce, which provided more than 190,720 meals to people in need.
Another unique volunteer opportunity at Second Harvest for children 7-13-years old is at Izzy’s Corner. Izzy’s Corner came to be when a 9-year-old girl, Isabel, attended our tour and was so moved to learn about the hunger problem in our community that she decided to do something to help. She was inspired to write a book titled Izzy and the Candy Palace with the proceeds benefiting our food bank. Second Harvest had always wanted to have a safe and fun place for children to volunteer so with the proceeds of the book sales and other donations, Izzy’s Corner was created. Izzy’s Corner is all about empowering kids to help kids. Our child volunteers sort and package produce which is ultimately distributed to our Kids Cafes and Mobile Pantries. In 2014, more than 1,400 children and their parents and Scout troop leaders volunteered almost 2,300 hours of their time.
And lastly, our volunteer captains enable us to maximize volunteerism in our food distribution center and free staff to perform other duties. Volunteer captains are long-time, committed volunteers whom we have identified to take on a leadership role in supervising volunteer shifts. After special training, volunteer captains work together with the operations department to ensure that volunteer projects run smoothly and to provide a better, more positive experience for all of our volunteers.
Second Harvest is proud to implement these unique volunteer opportunities, and we are excited to have them continue to grow in our efforts to feed more people and accomplish our mission.
Christine Montevideo is the volunteerism manager at Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County
* Photos courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange CountyTags: Fighting Hunger in Action , Volunteer , California , Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County