On November 29, 2016 a group of people from the KC sections of SWE and ASCE volunteered at Harvesters, Kansas City’s regional food bank. Harvesters’ mission is to feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow. Harvesters serves a 26-county area of northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. Harvesters provides food and related household products to more than 620 not-for-profit agencies including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes and others. They also offer education programs to increase community awareness of hunger and teach about good nutrition.
I’ve known about Harvesters for a long time. I put items in their barrels when I see them in stores. I scour my shelves for non-perishables to send with the kids to school for food drives. But this was my first invitation to hands-on volunteer at their facility. There were about 12 or 13 in our group so they split us in to two groups. My group started boxing up containers of bleach, cleaning supplies and laundry supplies into ~25 pound boxes. Stacking the boxes on pallets until they were 4 high. In the first hour we boxed up all they had and filled more than 2 pallets. Next they moved us to food in glass containers. For the next hour we filled boxes with at least 20 pounds of glass containers – jars of jelly, spaghetti sauce, pickles, baby food – an amazing array of food. As I picked out different kinds of food to put in each box I wondered about the people who would receive it. Would they have little kids who really wouldn’t like pickled beets? Would a struggling single parent with teenagers get a box with baby food in it?
My husband went with me. One woman brought her son (~10) and daughter (~13) with her. They worked hard. When I told my 23 year old where I was going that night she said she wished she’d known. She would have liked to come too. Was it fun? Not so much. Was I glad I went? Definitely. I plan to volunteer again next year and I’ll be bringing my kids with me.