Food bank needs more volunteers

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Alisha Hampton spent part of her spring break at the Golden Harvest Food Bank's Faith Food Factory.

Scott Sage and Alisha Hampton sort boxes of food at the Faith Food Factory, which is allied with the Golden Harvest Food Bank. The nonprofit depends on volunteer workers to operate.  Charmain Z. Brackett/Correspondent
Charmain Z. Brackett/Correspondent
Scott Sage and Alisha Hampton sort boxes of food at the Faith Food Factory, which is allied with the Golden Harvest Food Bank. The nonprofit depends on volunteer workers to operate.

The Cross Creek High School junior sorted through donated food at the center, pulling expired items and cans that were rusted or too badly dented to be distributed to people in need.

"We get 2 million pounds of food in the warehouse. If it doesn't get processed, it doesn't get through to the people who need it," said Laurie Harmon, the food bank's volunteer coordinator.

It also could be thrown away.

"Imagine if all the food from Spooky to Be Hungry had to be thrown out," she said.

Most of the food at the Faith Food Factory comes through food drives, corporate donations and trading with other food banks. It accounts for about 20 percent of the food distributed through the Golden Harvest Food Bank.

Volunteers such as Alisha are the main work force for the nonprofit agency, but some recent changes have left the organization scrambling for help.

For several years, the warehouse was staffed with volunteers in a federally funded welfare-to-work program.

"We averaged about 40 people, usually 30 hours a month each," Ms. Harmon said.

There were some changes, however, in the requirements for the federal program, and the food bank lost a majority of its volunteer base. Ms. Harmon said the welfare-to-work volunteers contributed more than 15,000 hours to the food bank last year.

On March 30, changes to the program brought an end to that work force at the food bank, leaving the organization in a bind.

On April 3, instead of having 10 to 15 people sorting through food, there were seven.

"We're not asking for a huge time commitment," Ms. Harmon said. "The average during the day is two hours, but people can stay longer if they want."

The Faith Food Factory, at 1831 Old Savannah Road, is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Ms. Harmon said they are hoping to attract "college students, retirees or people who work shifts" to volunteer.

She said the Faith Food Factory is available for service-learning field trips for school groups or as corporate team-building activities.

To accommodate people who work during the day or on weekdays, Ms. Harmon said they are considering adding an evening volunteer shift.

Groups of 10 or more can schedule a Saturday workday. Volunteers should be able to lift 25 pounds and stand for at least an hour.

For more information, call (706) 736-1199, ext. 208.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.


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