The holidays are around the corner, reminding us of the countless blessings in our lives. For others, this may be a reminder of what they don’t have. Fortunately, there are several opportunities for the community to come together and give back to those in need. One of the ways we can aim to do so is by taking part in volunteering at Food Bank RGV.
“The RGV is just a small piece of the world, but for a child or a family struggling to make ends meet, a meal can make the world of a difference,” –- Food Bank RGV
How it Began
The idea of food banking in the United States originated in the 1930s during The Great Depression. With farmers struggling to survive, the government stepped in. It offered to take the product straight from them and pay them for it. They began with dairy products, ending up with a warehouse full of cheese. From there, they turned to the churches to help distribute it to the people.
“Farmers are encouraged to plant extra crops for the sole purpose of feeding the ill, the needy and the children,” says Food Bank RGV Interim Director Janie Sinclair.
How it Works
Food banks are exactly what they sound like – banks of food. There are many ways they receive the goods they distribute. They come from the private sector to government agencies to corporate sponsors, to the general public. Upon receiving the goods, all of the donations are sorted for safety then stored in a 100,000-square-foot facility awaiting distribution.
From there, the food is distributed to their 275 pantries (also known as partner agencies) across Willacy, Hidalgo and Cameron counties. Once the pantries receive the product, they distribute it among children, seniors, families and individuals in the RGV.
Aside from receiving, storing and distributing food, Food Bank RGV also houses special programs that assist in aiding low income families in the RGV. School Tools, Operation Kid Pack and an on-site garden are only a few of these.
School Tools is a program aimed directly at teachers. Through this program, stores in the community donate school supplies to the food bank. Teachers are encouraged to register and pay a low membership fee of $100 per year. “With this, [they] are able to go into the food bank once a month and stock up on supplies needed in the classroom,” says Sinclair. “It’s a really neat program to have.”
With Operation Kid Pack, kids from low-income families may take home a bag of food from school on the weekends. The idea is that with this pack, it will hopefully last them and their families through the weekend.
In addition to these programs Food Bank RGV offers, they also have a garden on site. Here, low-income families are able to go in and claim a piece of land, till it, prepare it, learn how to plant in it and reap the harvest. This is a fairly new program that serves an educational purpose as well as a solution to the hunger issue in the RGV.
How You Can Help
Food Bank RGV has a large volunteer base and is always looking for more people to help. Whether you volunteer with food packaging or in the on-site garden, any act of service is greatly appreciated. To learn about the other programs and special events you can volunteer with year-round at Food Bank RGV, visit foodbankrgv.com. In order to get plugged in and check their volunteer availability schedule, contact Olivia Lemus, manager of Volunteer Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.