Volunteering at Food Bank for Westchester

On April 30, 2011, a group of students from the Pforzheimer Honors College volunteered at the Food Bank for Westchester.  The mission of this organization is to lead, engage, and educate Westchester County in creating a hunger-free environment. 

There are an estimated 200,000 Westchester County residents who are hungry or at risk of hunger. Nearly half of them are seniors; approximately one third of them are children. The Food Bank for Westchester is the backbone of the county’s emergency food distribution network. They solicit, acquire, warehouse and distribute food to more than 200 frontline hunger-relief programs throughout the county that include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and residential programs. They also deliver 10 to12 tons of food each day. To date, they have distributed over 75 million pounds of food to hungry Westchester residents.

Upon the students’ arrival, they received a tour of the facility which consisted of shelves stacked from floor to ceiling with non-perishable food. Much of the food is solicited and collected through donations from Feeding America, USDA, and local contributors, including food drives. However, they also purchase food at discount rates in bulk quantities through a cooperative buying program. All food goes to their warehouse where it is inspected and repacked into distributable quantities. 

This is where the Honors College students came in.  That day the students were split into two groups; one was unpacking, and identifying, and labeling food items that were in the freezer, and the other was repacking pinto beans. There were five huge crates filled with 25-pound bags of the beans.  It was the students’ job to convert those into smaller two-pound bags.  About two and a half crates were bagged in the time the students were there- which was a lot of beans! Time went by quickly as some students started making it into a competition to see who could make the most two-pound bags!
Overall it was a great day at the Food Bank of Westchester.  Many students expressed their intentions to go back and volunteer again!