By Kendra Scott, Work and Travel Cultural Assistant

Did you know that “some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life?”* That’s about one in nine people on earth. Wow! It was clear that volunteering in this way was definitely helpful, and a great way to support the local community of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

It was a bright, sunny day when we (including my colleague, Wioletta Olszowiec) showed up to volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Minneapolis-St. Paul. All 53 of us were happy to get out of the heat and into the large sprawling (and air-conditioned!) warehouse. Have you ever been to a large food bank before? It’s incredible! It was very well organized, and filled to the ceilings with food and boxes. The employees greeted us with friendly smiles and were happy to have our group there to help. There were multiple stations throughout the large warehouse. Before we started sorting and packaging food though, we filed into a colorful and bright room and learned all about Second Harvest.

Our Second Harvest group leader told us all about the importance of giving back to our communities and how we would be impacting the community through our work.

It not only opened our eyes to hear statistics on hunger and how it’s affecting our world, but it definitely geared us up to jump into the warehouse and start volunteering.

We walked over to the hand-washing station and picked out some gloves, aprons, and hair nets and got to work. Some worked at the potato sorting station where we tossed the potatoes that were not good to consume. There was energy in the air – an excitement and anticipation – as participants carried on in lively conversation, making new friends, and exchanging stories of their first few days in the United States.

At the next station, participants diligently measured and poured rice and beans into plastic bags. We learned that this is a great way to provide a meal with sufficient nutrition.

At the next station there were crates filled with dry foods, and wet foods. Here, we would measure specific amounts of food to pack into a box. Then the box would be sent down a conveyor belt, and was ready to be sent out to those who needed it.

Three hours later we had packed…drum roll please… 16,466 POUNDS OF FOOD! It was shocking to see how much we could accomplish in a small amount of time. As each participant broadly smiled at the camera at the end of the event, and proudly held up their certificate that was presented to them upon completion, it was pretty clear that they were proud of what they had accomplished.

*Reference: World Food Programme.