In December of last year, I had the opportunity to volunteer with my Feeding America team at the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD). Volunteers jump in to whatever project best serves the food bank, and after a brief introduction and orientation, we learned our assignment: repacking pasta. When it arrived at the food bank, the pasta was in huge cases packed on pallets, far more noodles than anyone (even this pasta-loving Italian) could get through in a year. At the end of the day, there was enough pasta to fill three whole pallets. We repacked the pasta into boxes filled with three pound bags, waiting to be distributed to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other partner agencies. From there, it would be cooked, served and enjoyed.
I always enjoy activities with my co-workers, but this task was even more important than most. In addition to doing my small part to help serve the clients of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, I got to see another piece of the huge Feeding America network. In our day-to-day work at the Feeding America National Office, we don’t come into contact with many clients or with the food that will eventually be brought into their lives and their homes. At the GCFD, we knew that all of the pasta we packed (and all the food on the shelves we walked past) was there ready to serve our community. Each part of the Feeding America network is important to solving huger. The food pantries, area food banks, National Office teams and our lobbyists in D.C. all have important work to do and all make key contributions. The opportunity to see another part of this large system of service helped me to really understand the role I’m playing in fighting hunger across the nation.
Volunteering at the GCFD highlighted to me something that exists in every place the Feeding America network reaches: a sense of spirit and community that runs through everything we do. I see it in the national office every day, and in every network member and partner agency I’ve been to. The people involved with the Feeding America network truly care about what they do. They work hard, they challenge themselves, but most of all they know that what they’re doing can have a great impact on their neighbors in need. This is what makes our network so beautiful to me; all of these independent, moving pieces each doing good hard work each day, supporting and communicating with each other, working towards the same goal. Feeding America inspires a spirit of service, and it is that spirit that enables us to act boldly, think bigger, and push forward towards realizing our vision of a hunger-free America.
*Kelly Messenger is a development coordinator at Feeding America.
Photo: Kelly (top middle) and her colleagues in the Major Gifts team volunteered at the Greater Chicago Food Depository as a team outing this past December.