Since the pandemic began, demand for our Weekend Meal Program has sharply increased with rising unemployment and food insecurity. While normalcy may seem right around the corner, so many families are still struggling, and food insecurity rates have not recovered yet. With the help of our volunteers, we have been able to keep up with demand. FITB delivered over 500K meals and over 1M pounds of food to local children since March 2020.
Deciding to volunteer during the pandemic can be a little scary. We’ve had to make adjustments at our warehouse to follow social distancing and CDC guidelines to keep everyone safe, and we’re so grateful that our volunteers have been flexible and accommodating to these changes.
Nerves aside, volunteering can be a great way to connect with people – something we’ve all been sorely missing since the pandemic began. That feeling of group camaraderie has been hard to find over the past year, and volunteering can be a great place to find that community you’ve been looking for.
As a continuation of our series for volunteer recognition week, we asked a few of our volunteers to share their experiences volunteering to support our Weekend Meal Program during the pandemic.
Aimee Mueller, Parent Volunteer: "I have stood shoulder to shoulder with all different groups of individuals with the same goal, helping others. During a packing event, the room is filled with positive energy and everyone is genuinely happy to be together focused on helping families in our community. In the early days of the pandemic, when there were no packing events due to public safety concerns, the first thing that came to mind was the number of families that needed help now more than ever. Thankfully, over this past year, FITB offered a safe environment to gather and connect to continue volunteer efforts to help those in the community that are experiencing food insecurity."
Rob Knechtle, Grace Community Church Youth Pastor: "[I have met] so many interesting people with FITB. My good friend PJ Johns got me involved with FITB, and it’s been great getting to meet Hunter (a FITB delivery driver) at the loading dock and seeing him drive the big truck for food deliveries. [Volunteering during the pandemic has] been a new experience, lots of gloves and masks but it’s been good to meet a few of the people at the schools who are stepping up and helping their communities and those dealing with hunger challenges. It’s quite an experience packing meals with people at the warehouse, seeing people come together in a challenging time to help others."
Nicole Ahrens, Parent Volunteer: "I think it’s easy to lose sight of how fortunate so many families are in Fairfield County but that is not the case for everyone. I was never put in a position to make choices that would impact how much I was able to feed my children on any particular day. Let that sink in for a moment...the answer becomes obvious. Volunteering at FITB has put me much closer to that dilemma and provided an opportunity to lessening that burden for so many families."
Maria Fata, Parent Volunteer: "During the first few months of lockdown, my sister, Sandra and I helped deliver meal bags to a few schools. It made us feel so good knowing we were helping children during such a difficult time in the world. It felt wonderful being able to help during a time when so much was out of our control. The pandemic put so much stress on families, and knowing that helping FITB would allow families to feed their children, well, that was just a blessing. Volunteering gave some positive light during a negative time."
If you’d like to get involved, visit our volunteer page to learn more – there’s a way to help that works for everyone!