A volunteer vacation doesn’t have to be exotic; sometimes it can simply mean giving back a few hours and making a difference in your own country. This weekend, Peter Greenberg Wordwide will broadcast from Foxwoods in Connecticut, where the Connecticut Food Bank has a few programs that let traveling volunteers drop in and help out. Find out more in this week’s Voluntourism Spotlight.
You might think of hunger as a problem that happens overseas, but 14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table. More than 48 million Americans—including 16.2 million children—live in these households. Right now, more than one in five children are at risk of hunger. And of the more than 20 million children who receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day, less than half receive breakfast and only 10 percent have access to summer feeding sites.
This where the Connecticut Food Bank comes in. The food bank distributes 33 tons of food every business day to 600 organizations including soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and low-income adult programs. The organization has many opportunities for long-term volunteers including food sorters, officer workers, pantry assistants and gleaners, who pick various crops from farms and orchards throughout the Connecticut Food Bank’s six-county service area.
But you don’t have to live in Connecticut to help. The Connecticut Food Bank also has several volunteer opportunities where you can just drop in and help out. In the Fairfield warehouse, volunteers gather every Thursday from 10 to noon for the kids’ backpack program. You pack kid-friendly food into containers that are delivered to elementary schools on Friday, so the children identified as being in need won’t go hungry over the weekend.
Connecticut Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator Kim Damien noted that recent demand for the backpack program has greatly increased and additional volunteer support (even just for a drop-in day) is much needed.
To volunteer in any capacity, contact Kim Damien at 203-469-5000, ext. 311 or email (kdamien at ctfoodbank.org).
If you are interested in volunteering directly at a local food assistance program, contact Infoline by dialing 211 or visiting Infoline.org.
By Lily J. Kosner for PeterGreenberg.com