My experience as a volunteer at the Willow Creek Food Pantry
Posted: August 17, 2011 Filed under: General, Volunteering at a Food Pantry | Tags: Food Pantry, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Hoffman Estates IL, Volunteering, Willow Creek
For the past several weekends, I have been doing volunteer activities at a food pantry/care center. What I do there is mainly packing, marking and moving food bags (in the back of a warehouse), for the families that come through the the doors.
Willow Creek Food Pantry & Care Center
2080 Stonington Ave.
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Willow Creek Care Center exterior
This is what gets packed into large paper bags
- Beans (Canned of bagged)
- Tomato/ Spaghetti sauce
- Protein ( canned tuna)
- Oatmeal or Grits
- Peanut Butter
- Fruit (canned)
- Boxes of tissues
- Rolls of toilet Paper
- Pouches of mashed potato
- Specials ( coffee, crackers, mints and other things)
On a few occasions I’ve seen the team be accommodating to clients who have allergies, and other special needs.
Recently, aside from packing the bags
There is also a Bread room here. I find it Interesting to be in the Bread room of the pantry because a good variety of baked items to work with…
- White Bread
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Whole Wheat (w/honey)
- Raisin bread
- Dinner Rolls
- Baguettes (French bread)
- Burger and Hot Dog buns
The volunteer(s) that get to work this room have a little more flexibility in choosing what goods go into the bag. The only two guidelines I was ever given while in here were, we try to give the clients as much variety as possible. All the thile staying within a quantity limit.
There is a (frozen) meat station to work at. I’ve seen chicken, ground beef, Roasts, Ribs Burger meat patties, and sausages. There is also a produce station, where you handle fresh fruits and Vegetables. Working either of these stations means that you will venture into the walk-in refrigerator and walk-in freezer from time to time to get items for the bags. Either would be a nice station to work at when it’s hot outside, haha.
Recently, I’ve been handling the station I like to call “Box breakdown”.
This is a station for those who like to flatten empty boxes and cardboard containers of different kinds. Here will use your hands and/or feet to flatten out items, load them into a large bin that gets moved into the next room, to be compacted. This station is for those with lots of energy because you will get a lot of items to work on in a single shift. Knowing how to handle a box cutter will help things go faster as well. I also like to do item restocking for the bag packing stations. The Food Pantry saves some boxes to be reused for storage. We also recycle paper and plastic.
- Chiquita Banana (tops and bottoms)
- Peapod boxes
- Greater Chicago Food Depository Salvage Boxes
The Weekend volunteer team leaders are a wonderful lot
Even though they are just a busy as any other volunteer, they are always willing to take time to help you look for something or answer a few questions.
We usually start with a team meeting and a prayer, before serving the guests/clients.
The Sunday team is currently looking for additional volunteers and any bi-lingual persons would be a great help for our Spanish speaking clients.