FoodBank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore
In lieu of Holiday Gifts, HBA was fortunate and grateful to have the opportunity to donate to the FoodBank of Southeastern Virginia and Union Mission Ministries.
Over the course of 2014, the FoodBank of Southeastern Virginia was able to distribute over 15 million meals to those in need in Southeastern Virginia and the Isle of Wight. Utilizing their resources wisely and leveraging their assets (to include volunteers), they were able to maximize their reach. And yet, there is still need. In fact, there is estimated to be a 13% increase in need over last year.
The FoodBank uses donations and volunteers in a multitude of ways. Food donations are received in to their warehouse via a newly-improved dock area, which allows for forklift operators to maneuver directly from the warehouse into tractor-trailers, without interruption. Once food items are received, they are visually checked over by a team of Quality Assurance Volunteers, who ensure packaging is still intact, labels are still intact, packaging is free of damage, and items fit into their rigorous criteria for cleanliness and health. Once food items have been inspected, they are sorted appropriately and either go into the warehouse, where they are prepped for re-distribution, or they will then be allocated to categorized bins, allowing for persons to “shop” for specific food items. When foods are re-distributed, they may go to one of over 400 partner agencies and programs, such as shelters or church pantries.
With monetary donations, the FoodBank is able to maximize their purchasing power through established relationships and bulk purchasing, and procure pallets of most-needed food items, including healthy options, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low/ non-fat dairy, and other items that are categorized under the Feeding America’s “Foods to Encourage” program. The FoodBank hopes to have as much as 50% of distributed foods fall under the Foods to Encourage program.
A major focus of the FoodBank is on the Child Nutrition Program, which includes the Backpack Program and the Kids Cafe. Locally, the FoodBank is able to work with 51 Elementary Schools in the area, through the Backpack program. Backpacks are filled with food items for children to take home over the weekends or holidays in discreet, nondescript backpacks or bags. Additionally, the FoodBank is responsible for the Kids Cafe program, located in 17 different local “safe environments”, such as YMCAs, Rec Centers, or additional after-school programs. Meals are prepared beforehand by Chefs at the Culinary Institute or the Founders Inn, and then distributed to children ages 5-18 who otherwise wouldn’t receive an evening meal.
How can you help?
- Monetary donations help the FoodBank tremendously, allowing them to establish and procure most-needed items. Typically, donations decrease vastly in the Spring and Summertime.
- Volunteering. While the FoodBank had over 7,000 volunteers last year, there is always room for more persons to sort, distribute, pack backpacks, and additional tasks.
- Food Donations. Items on the most- needed list include: lean canned protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meals, and baby products.
For more information on the Foodbank, please visit www.foodbankonline.org