|Maryland Food Bank in Desperate Need of Volunteers|
With more than 250,000 pounds of food waiting to be sorted and packed for distribution, the Maryland Food Bank is issuing an urgent call for help.
The Maryland Food Bank relies entirely on volunteers to sort and pack what is referred to as salvage – the mixed assortment donations supplied by food drives and retailers. To date in the current fiscal year, volunteers have donated 23,363 hours, saving the organization an estimated $530,340 in staffing costs. Volunteer hours are up 11 percent over the previous year, but with new donations from Wegmans and increased flow from other local donors, volunteers simply cannot keep up.
Volunteers handling salvage work on a high-tech conveyor belt in the warehouse, pulling specific types of food off as they pass and packing them into 25 – 50-pound boxes. Full boxes are then placed on the Maryland Food Bank’s daily menu, available for more than 600 soup kitchens, pantries and shelters across the state to order. Distribution has slowed with the backlog of donations.
The issue is compounded by the need for volunteers in FoodWorks, the Maryland Food Bank’s community kitchen, where perishable foods are transformed into healthy frozen meals. The need for FoodWorks volunteers is equally urgent due to the short shelf-life of the foods being handled. FoodWorks volunteers help package and flash freeze the meals, which are prepared by professional chefs and students participating in a culinary training program. Last year, FoodWorks produced 460,000 meals. Production is expected to grow significantly in the coming months as donations from local farms start to come in. The Maryland Food Bank partners with 45 farms across the state through its Farm to Food Bank program, launched last summer. Given the overwhelming increase in produce, the need for volunteers is expected to remain high throughout the summer – typically a time when volunteerism and donations are down.
Salvage Area Volunteering and Shifts: (Salvage area volunteers must be 18 years of age or older because of safety issues related to the conveyor belt.)
Volunteer shifts in the Salvage area are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
FoodWorks Volunteering and Volunteer Shifts: (FoodWorks volunteers must be 15 years of age or older.* )
Volunteer Shifts are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 12 to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Individuals, corporate and community groups are all welcome. Anywhere from 15 – 25 people can work on the conveyor belt at one time, while 10 people can work in the FoodWorks kitchen at one time.
To volunteer, please contact Jill Kusner, Volunteer Coordinator, at 410-737-8282 ext. 232 or email@example.com
About the Maryland Food Bank
The Maryland Food Bank’ mission is to lead the movement and nurture the belief that together we can improve the lives of all Marylanders by ending hunger. The Maryland Food Bank has facilities in Baltimore, Hagerstown and Salisbury comprising more than 125,000-square-feet of warehouse, refrigerator and freezer space. Last year, the Maryland Food Bank distributed more than 23.1 million pounds of food to a network of 600 soup kitchens, pantries and shelters across the state.