Through our partnership with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, we participate in their Retail Donation Program. We are assigned to the Food Lion at Masonboro Commons for food pickups each Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday morning. In order to handle the pickups, we have teams assigned to handle one pickup a month; they are scheduled for one day, in one particular week (e.g. the third Saturday, or the 1st Tuesday, etc.). At the present time, I am in need of a few more teams to fill in a couple gaps.
Since I need to recruit a few volunteers, I decided to volunteer myself one weekend on a trial run so that I could really understand the process. Another volunteer joined me, and we met at the Center Saturday morning. First thing we had to do was gather several of the coolers we have and add a few ice packs to each of them. We then loaded the coolers into the van and headed out. The store is located at 6400 Carolina Beach Rd , about 9 miles from here.
When we arrived, we drove around to the back of the building and ran the bell and announced ourselves; we were greeted by one of the managers, and we were led to one of the food storage areas; he loaded up our cart with boxes of meat. Then we headed to the produce area and likewise had several boxes of a wide variety of produce items. Another stop was made for dairy, deli and baked goods. Once we were done. we headed out to the parking lot to load up. We had to unpack the boxes of meat and load them into our coolers; we also put any dairy or deli items into other coolers. Then back to the Center to unload!
Once we carried everything downstairs, we had to weigh everything, separated by categories: meat, dairy, baked goods, etc. . (My administrative team gathers this info for reporting to the Food Bank at the end of the month.) Then we filled the appropriate fridges and freezers with our bounty. The last task was to wipe out the coolers and return them to the shelves, ready for the next pickup.
So what did I learn? It’s a good job for a team; in my case, I definitely needed a couple of assistants. There are a few gentlemen that manage to do it on their own, but in most cases we have teams of two or more. A large vehicle is needed – those coolers take up a lot of space and we usually use about 6; there are normally several boxes as well. The volume varies each time – some days we receive less than others, but we need to be prepared in case there’s lots!
Most of all, I learned that I am very grateful to the teams that take on this job; I now have a much better understanding of what it takes! And I’d love to have a few more volunteers; please contact me if you are interested.