A lifeguard, a teacher, and a doctor: three women providing essential lifelines to those in need in our community. These were just some of the people who were quick to share their time, enthusiasm, muscle, logistical prowess, and even their own cars to help feed our hungry neighbors.

We always knew we had an amazing team of volunteers, but nothing prepared us for the outpouring of support the community provided when the pandemic began. The number in need was growing every day and the Food Share team knew it would not be possible to feed the community without more help from generous friends like you and our dedicated volunteers.

Enter Madyson, a local lifeguard at the Kroc Center. When the pandemic abruptly forced her to put down her whistle, Madyson stepped in to help the Food Share warehouse team. She and her fellow team of lifeguards began preparing pre-packaged food boxes to distribute to local food pantries and community partners.

With social distancing measures in place, most of our food pantries and partner agencies have converted to direct-to-car distribution. With increasing need and limited staff, the pantries and partner agencies rely on these pre-packaged boxes to feed their clients. The energetic team of lifeguards has been known to create over 400 boxes in less than 3 hours, helping to feed 400 families in the process. For Madyson, it’s been personally gratifying to see her hard work directly translated to helping families in her community.

As a member of the Marion Polk Food Share Board of Directors, Debbie was well informed about food insecurity in our community and knew the pandemic would only make things worse. A local family physician, Debbie stepped in to become a volunteer Meals on Wheels driver.

“It really feels good to be able to bring nutritious food to [the Meals on Wheel clients], especially during a pandemic when health is paramount … I think people look forward to that friendly wave or the smile that we give and they know we’re checking in on them.” For homebound seniors and disabled adults, even a brief socially distanced visit is critical to ensure their continued safety and well-being.

One group particularly hard hit by the pandemic has been school children and their families. As a first grade teacher at Clear Lake Elementary School, Cortney was well aware how difficult it would be for children who no longer had access to meals at school. From an initial team of 4 volunteers, Cortney quickly found herself coordinating a team of 50 volunteers packing boxes for distribution, unloading delivery trucks, and distributing food to upwards of 1,000 families.

Reflecting on what her team has been able to accomplish, Cortney knows how important it is for the families they help feed. “The need is continuing to increase over time, and to be able to offer even a gesture of, ‘Here’s something to help you get through to the next payday,’ or ‘the next time you can access food,’ or something additional to supplement the meals that they’re picking up from the school site for lunches and breakfast, it feels like such a small contribution. I know for the families we’re serving it really does make a difference. To be a part of that is pretty powerful.”

Without your generous support, our staff and volunteers wouldn’t be able to help provide food to so many neighbors in need. Thank you!


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