Local Food Bank Faces Shortage of Volunteers

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COLUMBIA - The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri recently received a shipment of 108,000 pounds of cereal, but it's in need of volunteers to sort through it.

"Right now it's sitting in totes in our warehouse waiting to be repackaged," Volunteer Program Supervisor Melanie Lake said. "And as soon as we can get people in here, you know, we will get it shipped out."

Lake said the food bank relies on volunteers to serve 114,000 families in 32 counties, but summer plans and vacations have created a shortage of volunteers. The food bank normally has around 3,500 volunteers working per month, but this summer it has fewer than 2,000.

"With the end of school and summertime when people are vacationing, yeah, we are very short on volunteers," Lake said. "Normally our room will hold 80-85 people when we are rocking and rolling, but right now, we've got five people on sight. So we're not able to get much out."

Columbia's Youth in Action summer program is helping to fill the shortage.

"It's just great for them to be able to see their progress," Youth in Action Intern Anastasia Harris said. "They see this big bucket of cereal or hot dogs, empty it all out, and they feel really accomplished."

Lake said volunteers can repackage one tote or 380 pounds of cereal in an hour to an hour and a half.

"The sooner we can get it out there, the sooner we can feed people," Lake said. "That's more of the concern."

Lake said volunteers can work for as little as an hour. The contact to food bank about volunteering you can check out their website or call (573) 474-1020.