Meals Podcast: Pittsburgh Meals Financial institution acknowledges volunteers who assist the operation
There are so many key components that help the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank run its business smoothly and in return, get food to those who need it.
One of the most important are its volunteers. In April, the food bank recognizes those who take the time to end food insecurity as part of Volunteer Appreciation Month.
Angela Mallick is the Food Bank’s Community Engagement Manager, overseeing volunteering and community fundraising. On the volunteer side, she works with two community engagement coordinators to ensure volunteers are staffed during the food bank’s events and operations.
“Between the three of us, we hire around 6,000 volunteers a year,” Mallick said.
In mid-March 2020, it became clear that social distancing would prevent some of the food distributions from working.
“The start of the pandemic for the volunteer team was pretty insane in many ways,” Mallick said. “Within a week, we had gone from normal business operations to the standstill of our second largest volunteer company, namely ‘Produce to People’.”
This was followed by the cancellation of the “Empty Bowls” event, in which volunteers were also involved, and the closing of the sorting center in the food bank’s warehouse. Many of the sorting center’s volunteers come to the grocery bank every day, but at that time they had to stay at home.
Eventually, the volunteers switched to drive-up distributions and door-to-door delivery.
During the summer, volunteers were allowed back to the camp. For Mallick, it created a sense of relief and happiness.
“It was great to have these people back in the building for a while. It was really uplifting to be able to interact with them every day and walk around the camp and see all the volunteers we know and love and who are so interested in the food bank and the mission, ”she said.
During Volunteer Appreciation Month, the volunteer team hosts activities and giveaways to show their appreciation.
“The reason volunteers are so important is that almost none of our programs would be possible without the support of our volunteers,” she said. “We currently have around 120 employees, but my team brings around 6,000 volunteers every year to give their time.”
Mallick encouraged anyone wishing to volunteer to call, email, or sign up for the grocery bank online.
“Volunteering is like making a donation where every little bit counts,” she said. “If you can come out and give two hours, it can make a real difference to our employees and the people we serve.”
Listen: Angela Mallick talks about the importance of the Food Bank Volunteers