Last Saturday a group of fivers got together to package meal kits in the Maryland Food Bank (MFB) warehouse for our annual, company-wide Day of Giving.
Our goal for the day was to package 600 meal kits to go out to Marylanders in need — a big feat for us, but just a small part of the organization’s mission to end hunger in Maryland.
If you aren’t familiar with the MFB, they’re an incredible nonprofit. With an extensive network of community and organizational partners across the state, they supply food to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and faith-based organizations, and coordinate outreach programs that provide direct food assistance, educate the public on the importance of good nutrition, and fight hunger through innovative means.
The MFB is also a partner of ours, so it goes without saying that we were all very excited to lend a hand.
We arrived at the MFB’s South Baltimore warehouse at noon and gathered in a cozy room for coffee and tea. The building itself donned a bright and shiny Maryland Food Bank logo, and inside was additional signage, furnishings in the brand’s signature red, and an interactive wall filled with notes written by child volunteers that had just been there (yes, the kids apparently were up and at it before we were).
Matching the brand’s vibrant space were equally vibrant representatives. Before we headed into the warehouse, the organization’s EVP of Programs & External Affairs, Meg, and Volunteer Program Manager, Thomas, talked to us about the organization’s impact and vision and shared their personal stories. For those of us who hadn’t met these two before, it was inspiring to hear about their reasons for working at the MFB and to see how productive their team is. As a volunteer, you’re extra-inspired when you know you’re working for passionate people.
After an informative meeting with Meg and Thomas, we were taken into the warehouse by the Salvage Coordinator, Hillary. Hillary was just as passionate as the other MFB representatives but was also impressively direct and to the point when it came to safety (you have to be when you oversee people working in a warehouse). After a brief safety lesson, we formed our assembly line, and Hillary put us to work.
Our work in the warehouse was — from the perspective of a bunch of people who stare at and type on computers most the day — pretty demanding. For two straight hours, we filled boxes, replenished inventory, and broke down cardboard, stopping only to chug water and stretch our stiffening limbs. But as a hardworking and competitive group, we relished in the struggle.
We found ways to optimize our tasks and improve our flow. We helped each other out when needed. And we took pride in doing our best. Just like our last Day of Giving, the surprise benefit of volunteering (beyond the good it did for an important nonprofit) was that it gave us an opportunity to work as a team and break way out of our daily comfort zone.
At the end of the effort, we had packaged 600 meal kits. It really felt, and in many ways was, a huge amount of meal kits. That’s 600 people who will be able to count on breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a day. 600 people with one less burden to overcome. 600 people who can thrive and give back.
But in celebrating our hard work, it was put into perspective how significant the Maryland Food Bank’s mission really is.
600 meal kits are just a fraction of what the nonprofit provides to Marylanders every day, and to do so takes more than just a hard-working assembly line.
The tagline for the Maryland Food Bank’s 40th-anniversary campaign is just that: It Takes More. Because it takes more than food to end hunger. And as much as idfive enjoyed its Day of Giving, it takes more than a group of volunteers boxing meal kits to stop Marylanders from going hungry.
It takes committed donors, partnerships within the community, and relentless volunteers. It takes education and awareness, government programs supporting the effort, and a refusal to let anyone in Maryland go hungry. It takes people like Meg, Thomas, and Hillary being exceptional at what they do. Day in and day out.