By Nathan Curland
Last month, Humanists of Minnesota launched a new volunteer opportunity for its members. We secured a two-hour monthly slot at the Food Group’s Warehouse in New Hope to pack food boxes for the secular nonprofit’s 170 statewide food-shelf partners. The work is physical and requires volunteers to re-pack bulk goods and donation items that the warehouse receives into units usable by the food shelves and individual clients.
The Food Group has a 40-plus-year history of working to provide good, healthy foods to those who need it the most in our communities. Over the years. it has expanded its outreach and in 2014 changed its name, from the Emergency Foodshelf Network, to better encompass all its activities. You can check out its various programs here.
Humanists of Minnesota has a positive history with the Food Group. For over two years we sponsored monthly sessions of two of their Mobile Food Shelves, one in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis. This program created temporary food shelves at low-income facilities to meet the needs of aging clients who could not easily go to a brick-and-mortar food shelf. Unfortunately, last summer these programs were terminated due to the loss of sponsorship from a major Food Group supporter.
Since then we have been looking for other opportunities. For instance, this past fall a few of us tried volunteering at one of the Food Group’s 37 Fare-for-All sites. These are monthly temporary locations that distribute pre-packaged boxes of meats or produce to the public at greatly reduced wholesale prices. (While the sites are open to all, they are located in low-income areas where residents have few options for obtaining quality goods and most customers really need to save money.) But these sites are small and do not need a large group of volunteers. (Each site can use one or two volunteers, however, so if you wish to volunteer as an individual, contact the Food Group directly.)
Discussing the situation with Dan Johnson, the Food Group warehouse volunteer coordinator, we found that some Friday afternoon slots were available for food packaging. This volunteer activity can easily accommodate any number of volunteers. The more the better! Our monthly slot will be either the third or fourth Friday of the month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; details can be found via our Meetup site. This month’s opportunity will be February 22.
Please join us for this rewarding volunteer opportunity to help fight hunger in Minnesota!