The Power of Volunteerism
The volunteer community is integral to Ozarks Food Harvest’s mission. Each week, hundreds of volunteers step through the doors of The Food Bank to help make the Ozarks a better place to live.
Last year, The Food Bank recorded 10,653 individual volunteer visits. Some of these volunteers help out on a regular basis, while others may have only visited once or twice. Together, Hunger Heroes spent nearly 31,000 hours sorting and packing food in the warehouse, assembling Senior Food boxes and Weekend Backpack bags, harvesting produce in Ozarks Food Harvest’s garden, distributing food at area pantries and Mobile Food Pantries and helping out at fundraising events.
Each person helps provide more than 300 meals during a typical sort and pack session in the warehouse. Over the course of the past year, more than two million meals were provided through the Volunteer Center alone.
In addition to the physical work volunteers do for Ozarks Food Harvest, they also raise awareness about the issue of hunger in our community. Each time a volunteer tells a friend about his or her experience with The Food Bank, wears a Hunger Action Month t-shirt or posts a photo from a recent session, they shine a spotlight on hunger.
Volunteerism also helps Ozarks Food Harvest make the most of its financial resources. Without it, The Food Bank would be forced to hire 15 full-time employees to manage all of the tasks volunteers handle on a daily basis. All of the money that would be required to pay additional staff members can instead be used to provide more meals.
Stephanie Luhm, who has donated more than 200 hours of time over the past two years, realizes the impact she’s making on hunger relief. As a special education teacher at a school that receives Weekend Backpacks from The Food Bank, Stephanie has seen firsthand how powerful a simple bag of food can be for a struggling child.
“I personally strive to put ‘more good’ back in this world than I take out,” she expressed. “By committing to volunteer a couple times a month, I know that I am trying to do my part in helping others.”
If you have ever volunteered with Ozarks Food Harvest, I would like to personally thank you for your commitment to fighting hunger. Your gift of time is invaluable, and I truly appreciate you.
For those who have yet to volunteer with The Food Bank, I encourage you to apply and schedule a session. Sacrificing a small amount of your time—even if it’s just three hours a month—will truly make a world of difference for someone who’s struggling to put dinner on the table.