I mention sometimes that Jen and I volunteer at a local food bank…but what exactly does that mean? Well I thought that some people might be interested in seeing what exactly goes on with all those canned goods and clothes being donated to the Katrina relief.
Plus, I realized I’ve never taken a picture of anything there before…
So the basics… the food bank is really a huge warehouse, just image a costco for smaller food banks and soup kitchens. Basically what we do is take donations from people, and large corporations (Jewel, Dominicks, General Mills, etc) of stuff they don’t want anymore for whatever reason. You’d be surprised how much stuff stores just throw out to make shelf space for something else that will sell. So what we do is offer to go get it. They win because they save garbage fees for dumping, and we win because we can get it, clean it, and get it ready for other food banks to give out to needy people at a fraction of the price it would cost to buy. It’s like a 10:1 ratio for value….very scary actually.
Anyways, I digress. Once we have all this stuff it gets sorted into a lot of categories. Household, OTC, Cereal, Personal Care, Presort, Paper products, Cleaning supplies, Meat, Feminine Hygiene, Diapers, Baby, Snacks, Cookies, Candy, etc….I’m sure that’s not all, but it’s all I can remember off the top of my head.
That’s what a lot of the projects are on weekends, sort and presort these items down into the categories. Then you turn around and sort that categories depending on the exceptions. For example you might sort out all the cereal from a donation, then the next day a different group takes that presort, and sorts it down into 10# boxes while sanatizing w/ a bleach solution (depending on storage before donation), maching sure nothing has been exposed to air/mice and weeding out the wrong stuff (grits, cereal bars, hamburger helper, etc).
That’s just one project…but really you get the point. Past this, the stuff goes on pallets, and gets put into storage for the foodbanks to choose from.
Another side project is FEMA standby supplies. Certain amounts of bottled water, dry storable foods, etc… As you can imagine all that stuff got consumed so quickly it’s not funny. With everything that’s been going on they’ve been shipping out everything practically not bolted to the floor.
Ken and Don in the presort room, usually this room is packed with double stacked pallets like you see in the corner:
Conveyer belt sort room, attached to the presort room:
These next pics are out in the warehouse:
Here’s the area and group I was supervising yesterday. We were working on sorting all Katrina Donations into catagories.
You can see in that last pic, two different pallets. One deemed MRE (meal ready to eat) and the other called Heat and Eat (just add water). Just to show you the extra categories that have to be considered….trust me you don’t want to know all the little nuances.
And last but not least, the station after everyone left and the walkie-ridy I used that day. They’re really great when dealing with heavy pallets (most MRE are canned foods…you have no idea how heavy that is) and especially when you have to go from end to end of the warehouse to get an empty lug.