On January 16th, the FT Cares Foundation had its first Employee Volunteer Day (a day for each employee—one per year—to volunteer at a Foundation project).
Our first project was at Northern Illinois Food Bank/Geneva. We had two shifts and two different projects.
SHIFT 1 Our intrepid group of volunteers was led into the “prep area” where we learned our assignment: we were to take FROZEN bulk, sliced sausage patties and repackage them into individual packages of approximately 2 pounds each (about 20 patties). To do this, we needed whole head coverings, white coats and gloves. The room was about 55 degrees. With gusto, each volunteer worked on our “assembly line”. The first group took the sausages from their bulk boxes, separated them, moved them down the line so each slice could be put into a bag. The bag was then weighed and passed on to the person assigned to do the “crimping”, a machine that sealed the bags, which were then labeled and put into boxes of six individual servings. While fingers and toes got a little cold, everyone hung in there for the approximate 2 hours we worked on this task! When it was done, we were told that we packed 780 POUNDS of sausages, which would provide 650 MEALS!
SHIFT 2 After our pizza lunch, we went out to the warehouse to do our second shift project: we were to open large boxes of food items donated by Trader Joe’s, cross out the bar codes on EACH item, and then repackage the items. Standing off to the right of our tables were 3 pallets full of boxes. Our shift was to get through ALL the boxes on the pallets, and again, we set up an assembly line to handle the task in the most efficient manner. When our shift was done, we were told we packed 6,295 POUNDS of food, which would provide meals to 5,245 meals.
The volunteers from First Trust were: Cassandra Hendry, Michael Dawson, Angie Cummins, Anita Ware, Brian Kirk, John Loch, Sam McGee, Zach Cute, Kate Mayer, Lisa Weier and Jane Doyle. Lisa’s kids also joined us, as well as a couple of friends of the FT Cares Foundation.
The consensus from all was that not only was it a fun way to give back to the community, we really made a difference in the lives of our neighbors in Northern Illinois who would otherwise miss meals. Would it surprise you to know that there are 600,000 individuals in the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s 13-county service area for whom 3 meals a day are not always guaranteed?
- Children under 18 make up 36% of hungry individuals the NIFB serves
- Seniors age 60 and up make up 9%
- Among all hungry neighbors, 40% identify as white, 33% as Hispanic or Latino and 17% as African American
- 66% of households that use the Food Bank’s services have incomes that fall at or below the federal poverty level
- 78% of households that use the Food Bank’s services have a high school diploma (or general equivalency diploma) and 30% have completed some college, earned a business, trade or technical degree or completed a 4-year college degree or higher level of education
- Based on the “Hungry Study” taken by Hunger in America, 77% of households the Food Bank serves had to choose between paying for food and utilities in the past 12 months, and 62% had to choose between food and paying for medicine/medical care in the past 12 months.
The Foundation is grateful for the group who helped make such a difference at the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Stay tuned for our next volunteer opportunity!