Guest blogger Kevin Lynn volunteers with United Way on the Emerging Leaders Marketing Committee. Kevin is a brand development specialist at McKinstry, a design-build-operate-maintain firm that specializes in construction and energy services, where he focuses on communications, marketing and community engagement.
When I signed up to volunteer at Food Lifeline with a group of fellow Emerging Leaders, I didn’t realize I was helping my neighbor.
Only five to 10 percent of the one in five people in Washington who rely on a food bank are actually homeless, explained our volunteer leader. That means Food Lifeline, a non-profit organization that distributes food to local food banks across Western Washington, acts as a critical lifeline to people who live in houses all across our neighborhoods – perhaps even next door to you.
I have one of those neighbors. I see her walk down the street to my local food bank every Wednesday and Saturday. She owns her home with a big garden, has grandkids who visit, takes care of a pack of cats – in short, not the stereotype of someone who would need to access a food bank. I couldn’t help but think of all the people like her across our city as our crew of volunteers spent the morning repacking food donations at Food Lifeline’s Shoreline warehouse.
Food Lifeline relies on volunteers to process the massive volume of donations that come in from food drives, individual donations and surplus foodstuffs that stores can’t sell. This food is perfectly good, but may not meet the aesthetic requirements of choosy consumers. Food Lifeline accepts these donations and distributes them to organizations that serve hungry people all over King County and beyond.
We stored and packaged thousands of pounds of food into family-sized quantities. We boxed up jars of peanut butter, olives and canned fruit; combined bags of Boo Chips, cereal and granola bars; and created pet care packages with food, blankets and toys.
By the end of our shift, our group of 25 Emerging Leaders had boxed up nearly 12,000 pounds. Weary from slinging literally tons of food, we paused to bask in the scale of our progress only to realize how much work remained. We had done our part for the day, but the need continues.
Emerging Leaders is a United Way social group for people in their 20s or 30s looking to get involved with their community. Sign up to receive monthly invitations to upcoming events and meet other like-minded young professionals while you’re at it!
Food Lifeline is in constant need of volunteers to sort and pack food donations, manage their office and attend community events. Check out their volunteer page to learn more.