BALTIMORE—With more than 500,000 pounds of food waiting to be sorted and packed at its Baltimore County headquarters, the Maryland Food Bank is issuing an urgent call for help. The food bank relies entirely on volunteers to process what’s known as salvage—mixed assortment donations received from food drives and retailers. Volunteers put in more than 15,000 hours from July – December, helping the Maryland Food Bank meet the growing need brought on by the government shutdown, sequestration furloughs and cuts to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps).
Unfortunately, generous donations from retailers combined with a decline in volunteerism after the holidays has created a serious backlog. Now, the equivalent of 17 tractor trailers worth of food is sitting in the Maryland Food Bank’s warehouse instead of reaching children and families in need. The demand is so great that any food that volunteers do pack is ordered by soup kitchens, pantries and other Maryland Food Bank partners within 2 hours—quickly depleting supplies and leaving the need unmet.
To remedy the situation, the Maryland Food Bank is looking for groups of 15 – 25 people who can work 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and/or 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Monday – Friday. These shifts are offered every weekday, but currently only 60 percent of them are filled.
For groups who are not available during the workday, the food bank will begin offering sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
At least 15 people are needed per shift to be effective, and because all sorting is done on a high-speed conveyor belt, volunteers must be age 18 or older.
If both weekday and evening shifts were filled, the food bank estimates it could get two additional tractor trailers worth of food out each week, and eliminate the backlog within a month.
To schedule time to volunteer, please visit our volunteer page and follow the step-by-step instructions!