There are certain “non negotiables” in my schedule. For example I need to workout in the mornings and go to yoga, if I skip a few days I’m not very pleasant. I like having certain fixed points in my schedule, it helps me plan my day and set boundaries. I’ve recently added another fixed point to my schedule, volunteering at the Food Bank.
September was National Hunger Action Month and I struggled all month to figure out how I could help in a meaningful way. It wasn’t until I toured my local food bank with my fellow Mom’s Fighting Hunger pals that I figured it out.
The San Antonio Food Bank’s mission
I learned so much on the tour; it changed my whole perception of the Food Bank.
- Over 40% of what the Food Bank hands out is fresh produce. I always assumed they only gave out canned food.
- The face of hunger is changing. 46% of the people who ask for help have a working adult at home. This was eye opening to learn.
- The Food Bank can turn a $1.00 donation into $13.00 worth of food. They are able to do this because of their volunteers and their buying power.
- 29.2% of the children in Bexar county, the county I live in, are hungry. That is higher than the national average. I can’t just sit back and watch this continue in my own backyard.
After the tour I was convinced that I wanted to volunteer on a regular basis.
I have volunteered for the past three Fridays at the Kids Cafe and I am really enjoying working there. The Kids Cafe is where meals are made for children who attend after-school programs. The Food Bank sponsors several of these programs around the city. My job as a volunteer is to help fill the coolers and clean up. The children get a hot fresh meal everyday; on Fridays they get a cold meal.
The volunteers make sure the coolers are clean and filled with food.
A typical Friday meal for the children would be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple sauce, a cheese stick and a fruit cup. They also get their choice of plain or chocolate milk. Some kids will also get cereal and milk on Saturday morning.
The zen of volunteering
There is something about volunteering that I find so rewarding yet relaxing at the same time. Working at the Kids Cafe involves a lot of counting. It’s very important that you put in exactly the right number of meals in each cooler so that every child gets one. The nice thing about that is you cannot think of anything else but the task at hand otherwise you will lose count. That means you must be fully present. The work is often simple and repetitive which gives you many opportunities to practice being in the moment. I like that. I always leave feeling happy and energized.
There is also something exciting about working in a commercial kitchen. I like watching the chefs cook, also operating the big commercial dishwasher is very cool.
Working there reminds me of how lucky I am. These kids that I’m helping to feed are no different from my child. They need to play, learn and eat. They have days when they need more food because they are going through a growth spurt. The difference is they don’t have the food available to them. Thanks to programs like the Kids Cafe they are able to get what they need. I know that if I keep volunteering at the Food Bank I am making a difference. If you can spare some time consider volunteering, if you don’t have the time why not donate some money, every little bit helps.