Family Focus: Food bank needs more volunteers as demand goes up

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte’s Second Harvest Food Bank is seeing more demand than ever for its service.
 
The agency always needs donations of food and money, but there's something else it needs donations of: time.
 
There's almost never any downtime at Second Harvest Food Bank.
 
More than 40 million pounds of food came through one warehouse last year alone.
 
Certainly the employees stay busy, but much the work here is done by people who aren't being paid -- the food bank's volunteers.
 
“Volunteers drive our operations. They are more of the manpower hours than staff is,” said Shay Merritt with Second Harvest Food Bank.
 
Second Harvest has 39 paid, full-time employees.
 
Add up all of the hours that volunteers put in and it's the equivalent of 45 additional full-time employees.
 
Anne Johnson is one of those volunteers. She comes here every week and she's been doing it for 10 years.
 
“It's very, very rewarding to come down here and know that you're doing some good for somebody else,” Johnson said.
 
Second Harvest needs more people like Johnson. 
 
The agency provides food for 600 food pantries, soup kitchens and other organizations and the demand just keeps growing.
 
Weekend volunteer shifts fill up fast, so they're asking people who can to step up during the week.
 
“Are there civic groups out there or individuals just looking for a way to help make a difference? Really, we need you from Monday through Friday,” said Executive Director Kay Carter.
 
“In two hours, a group of 10 people can process 10,000 pounds of food, and we can get it right out and into the community,” Merritt said.
 
Johnson said its good exercise too and she said it's easy to get hooked.
 
“Come try it and you won't ever leave,” she said.
 
Second Harvest asks that volunteers commit to at least a two-hour shift.
                               
Children, ages 12 and up, are welcome as long as they're supervised.

For more information on how to volunteer, CLICK HERE.