by Shanna Lisberg
On Saturday, April 5, seven Junior League of Seattle volunteers gathered at Northwest Harvest’s main warehouse in Kent, Wash. to help sort and re-package bulk food for distribution to food banks throughout the state. Northwest Harvest is a nonprofit food bank distributor that has been fighting hunger since 1967. Northwest Harvest has a network of more than 360 food banks, meal programs, and high-need schools and provides more than 1.7 million meals every month.
Joining us on Saturday morning were a wide variety of volunteers including the Girl Scouts, families, other organizations and high school students. After hearing more about Northwest Harvest and general safety instructions, we learned that our task for the day was to sort and package rice into family-sized portions. Wearing our health-code required and oh-so-fashionable hairnets and plastic gloves, we got to work on this important task.
To make the work more efficient, Northwest Harvest has implemented quite the assembly line process. First, 50 pound bags of rice were brought in on pallets and the bags were emptied into a large bin. Volunteers then filled smaller bags with 1 large cup of rice each. These bags were then transferred to other volunteers who were tasked with taping the bags closed. The bags were then packed into boxes, which were sealed, labeled, and ready to be shipped to the food bank.
When we were finished, we had sorted and packaged 9,950 pounds of rice into 420 boxes. This amounted to 7,653 meals for hungry people.
Rice is not the only food distributed by Northwest Harvest. Volunteers might find themselves sorting fresh fruit, vegetables, beans or grains. Bulk items are repackaged into family sized portions to make distribution at the food banks quicker and easier. Each bag of rice that we packed on Saturday contained enough food to feed a family of four.
It was very inspiring to see all the other individuals who had chosen to spend their Saturday morning volunteering at Northwest Harvest. It was especially inspiring to see the families and younger children. It was clear that the kids were having a lot of fun while becoming aware of meaningful social issues. This service shift was a fantastic way to give back to the community and make a difference, all the while promoting the Junior League mission on Impact Day.
To find out more about Northwest Harvest visit http://www.northwestharvest.org/