This past weekend I volunteered for a shift at the Greater Boston Food Bank. This is my second time this year I have volunteered at the GBFB. Because we were a group of 10 people and needed a weekend volunteer slot, we had to schedule long in advance. On the one hand it’s great that so many people volunteer their time, but on the other hand it can be hard to lock down a big group of people so far in advance.
The Greater Boston Food Bank is mainly a storehouse for donated foods. They sort and categorize the food to be shipped out to institutions that will serve it to families in need. The majority of sorting is done not by paid employees, but by volunteers; that’s where you come in!
How to Sign Up to Volunteer
It’s important that you contact them ahead of time to schedule a time to go in, especially if you’re going with a large group. There may be a bit of a wait before you can get in there but do not get discouraged, think of the people you will be helping. The first step is to fill out the contact form on their website. The link is at the bottom of this page.
To get there most people will need to take I-93. Leave your house nice and early, there is always traffic on I-93, no matter what time of day.
You will need to turn right, down Atkinson Street. The main street leading there (Southampton Street) is a one way so if you miss the turn it’s a real pain trying to circle back around.
There is a gated parking lot across the street from the entrance. They have a coin operated exit “arm” so be sure to take a coin when you go inside. Sometimes they have them in the classroom and sometimes they have them up front at the secretary desk.
There’s a box on the right along the wall where you can drop off any boxed/canned food you’ve brought to donate. Once done, head up stairs to the classroom. The classroom is located down the hallway, you’ll see it on your left.
Sign in and find a seat. One of the administrative staff will begin explaning what the food bank does and how you will be helping them.
The first time I volunteered we had to sort the boxed and canned goods. It involved lining up around a conveyor belt with a bunch of empty boxes. Each box was a different category and we would grab those items from the conveyor belt that matched the category and place them inside.
This past time we were sorting meat. It sounds weird I know, but it ended up being a lot of fun. The warehouse workers would place large pallets of frozen meat in the center. We would grab empty boxes and fill them with different categories of meat (Pork, Poultry, Beef, Processed and Misc). There was also a weight limit to each box, so on top of properly categorizing each piece of meat, you also had to make sure the box wasn’t too heavy. It became a bit of a competition between me and my friends to see who could make a better box.
The time flies by much faster than you would think. We were there for ~2.5 hours but it did not feel like it, we were having a lot of fun and it was a great way to reconnect with each other.
At the end of the shift, everyone has to go upstairs where the GBFB administrator congratulates you on a job well done. He’ll tell you just how much food you sorted and how many meals that translates to. It’s a great feeling knowing that you helped provide hundreds of meals to people in need.
Make sure you have a parking token before you leave so you can get out of the parking lot.
People like to make excuses to not volunteer, but this took only a few hours on a Saturday morning. It was fun and over quickly and you help feed many hungry families. Go and volunteer!
Official Greater Boston Food Bank site: http://www.gbfb.org