Every Month Should be Volunteer Appreciation Month
Hunger No More Blog
Volume No. 1, Issue No. 4
By Jared Slinde
I sat next to Zanik Bartelt, our volunteer coordinator, at a staff meeting during the month of March. He had been in the process of reserving times for groups and individuals inside our volunteer center for the month of April.
“Guess how many volunteer spots we have left available for April,” he said to me.
Speculating his reason for bringing this up was that volunteer spots were currently in high demand, I guessed a low number. Well, the answer was even lower than my prediction.
He had just four spots remaining for all of April. And those last spots filled up quickly in the coming days.
The reason behind the extremely high demand wasn’t entirely coincidental as we are now in April and celebrating Volunteer Appreciation Month.
At the Great Plains Food Bank, we are spoiled by our volunteers.
We have organizational messaging that our volunteer network is the backbone for how we distribute food assistance to 94,000 individuals each year. But it is more than simply a statement that sounds pleasant and designated for speaking engagements. It’s more than that because it’s the truth.
In 2016, nearly 5,500 volunteers gave close to 20,000 total hours. To put that into perspective, it is enough volunteer work to account for 9.5 full-time employees.
Groups big and small including families, singles, church groups, athletic teams, companies and much more have been piling into the warehouse to pack meals for those in need.
This month AmeriCorps/Senior Corps and Hornbacher’s have brought in large groups able to pack thousands of pounds worth of food. And before the month is over, we will see large groups from AARP and potentially the biggest contingent of them all with Hatch Realty. Those are just to name a few.
Our volunteer network helps our Mobile Food Pantry and Perishable Food Distribution programs bring our trucks directly into rural communities with limited access to food assistance. They help to fill backpacks for our children’s Backpack Program, which helps the 36 percent of those served each year by the Great Plains Food Bank that are children with food on the weekends when the school lunch programs aren’t available. They help with food boxes for seniors and volunteers are the driving force behind 300 charitable feeding sites located in 113 communities throughout the state of North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. Our volunteer network allows us to feed the one in nine individuals in the state of North Dakota struggling with food insecurity and allows us to run things like our children’s Summer Feeding Program.
And again, these are just to name a few.
So, we take this month to acknowledge the true difference our volunteers are making in the fight to end hunger. But we wish to emphasize that our appreciation exists 12 months a year.