The following post is by Melinda Muller, who is a Dietetic Technology student. She is volunteering at several community organizations that provide nutritional food and education to the general public. As she visits these organizations, she will chronicle her time there and give us valuable information regarding their mission and how we can help!
Week 1: The Community Food Bank of New Jersey
The Purpose of This Series:
As a second-year Dietetic Technology student, I have been given the opportunity to visit several organizations in New Jersey that provide nutrition education and food to the general public. I plan to participate in volunteer work and glean nutrition information from Registered Dietitians at the sites.
I am interested in learning how the study of dietetics tangibly intersects with my community and what the sites, which I am scheduled to visit, offer the public. Before I became involved with dietetics, I had not heard of some of these organizations, let alone been aware of their functions. However, as this semester progresses, I hope to be able to obtain valuable information about them, as well as obtain skill while visiting these places.
As I research and volunteer, I would like to take you with me on my journey and pass on some of the information that I believe you may find interesting.
Today, I was able to visit the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. This is a non-profit organization that collects donations and distributes food to smaller non-profit organizations in New Jersey. It acts as the main food supply center for other non-profit organizations.
About the Community Food Bank of New Jersey
The organization collects donations from individuals, schools, and religious groups and distributes it to: emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, senior feeding programs, child care centers, after school programs, group homes, and summer camps. The Community Food Bank is dedicated to fighting poverty and providing people with nutritious food.
In addition to distributing food, the Community Food Bank also runs several other programs including the Community Kitchen, the Thrift Shop, and the Kids Division. The Community Kitchen is a service that provides family meals, catering, and culinary training. Family meals contain essential nutrients and feed families of four.
The Thrift Shop is located in the Food Bank’s warehouse. It provides teachers with school items and children with clothes. The Kids Division aims to improve the lives of children in poverty by supplying them with new clothes, food, and school supplies.
The Community Food Bank relies heavily on volunteers to sacrifice their time to help. Although the Community Food Bank is an independent, non-profit organization, the government helps to fund some of its programs, including the Kid’s Café, which currently provides after school meals and nutrition education to thirteen schools in New Jersey. Therefore, the program must follow specific guidelines for what types of food it serves.
How to Get Involved With The Community Food Bank of New Jersey
Employees at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey are pleased to accept volunteers. I had a rather pleasant experience when I went with a group of classmates to help them.
Prior to arriving on the site, we were given directions and a parking diagram. Once we got there, we were introduced to the Registered Dietitian, who gave us an orientation. She showed us the warehouse and explained various aspects of the organization.
Immediately after the orientation, we helped to pack bagged meals for the BackPack program, which gives school children, who have limited access to nutritious food, a supply of food for the weekend. The children receive the food in backpacks that are not distinguishably from a charity organization.
Another activity, in which I was able to participate, was restocking and organizing the teacher’s store. This store exists for teachers, who have 70% or more impoverished students in their classrooms. Teachers are allowed to shop in the store twice a year with an allotted amount of points to spend on products; most of the time, teachers do not need to spend as many points as they have been allotted. This program provides students with basic supplies and incentive items.
I am glad that places like the Community Food Bank of New Jersey exist to help impoverished people. This place would not be able to function, however, without the help of volunteers. I understand that there are always activities in which people can help. Some of these include: sorting and repacking food, preparing shipments, collecting food from donators, and assisting with fundraisers.
If you would like and are able to help, please consider volunteering at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.
For more information about the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, please visit: http://www.njfoodbank.org/.
photo courtesy of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey
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