The North Texas Food Bank is in desperate need of more volunteers. On Oct. 28, the Plano-based nonprofit issued an urgent appeal for help as it heads into what is typically its busiest season.
According to officials with the food bank, the number of volunteers significantly dropped during the pandemic and has yet to rebound. That has made it difficult for the organization to accommodate the estimated 800,000 North Texans who are dealing with food insecurity.
Severe economic fallout in the wake of the pandemic has only increased the demand for assistance from the food bank. Over the past fiscal year, it has provided more than 125 million meals with the help of only 9,300 volunteers. To put that into perspective, in pre-pandemic days, it was providing 97 million meals with the help of 40,000 volunteers.
Over the past 18 months, The Texas National Guard and Get Shift Done team members have helped make up for the loss of regular volunteers. However, in September, the National Guard workers moved on to their next assignment, creating the immediate need for more help.
“The volunteers are the hearts and hands behind our organization. We are so grateful for everyone willing to help us sort, pack and distribute food – and many other volunteer opportunities are available across the food bank,” Director of Volunteer Operations Cassie Collins said. “Millions of meals are distributed through our partner agencies and feeding programs thanks to our distribution center volunteers who sort and pack food in preparation for transport to our feeding network of agencies. And right now, that is where we have our biggest need for volunteers.”
The North Texas Food Bank has two distribution center volunteer opportunities five days a week on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Each can accommodate up to 100 people. The morning shift is from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. and the afternoon shift is from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. Beginning November 4, the food bank will add a new distribution shift on Thursday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. that will accommodate 40 people. All shifts are open to individuals and groups.
Volunteers must be at least 12 years old. Volunteer hours can be tracked for employer matches, schools, scholarships, scouts and other organizations. The food bank will continue to require employees and volunteers to follow the protocols recommended by the CDC, including face coverings, frequent handwashing and social distancing.
“The North Texas Food Bank brings hope to so many people throughout our 13-county service area, and volunteers are the help behind the hope,” Collins said. “Whether you are a high school or college student, a professional or a retired worker, we can use your skills and time.”