You Gave Teresa Food and a Fresh Start

By Published On: May 22nd, 2018

Teresa spends most of her working hours in the Food Share’s warehouse sorting through perishable food donations from local grocery stores. Because of you, she has the necessary skills to make
sure that hungry families receive the freshest food– and she has a job that provides stability for her and her children.

“I’ve used food boxes in the past and I didn’t know how much [work] went into it,” Teresa said. “There’s actually a whole team of people that it takes just to get the food there. Now I know the big picture.”

When Teresa needed food, you made sure her family had enough to eat.

Although Teresa visited a pantry partner, Table of Plenty at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, she didn’t become familiar with the Food Share until a year and a
half ago.

When she first arrived, it wasn’t to apply for a job. It was to fulfill her mandated community service.

“I got in trouble,” Teresa said. “I was sanctioned and this is where I came.” During her community service, Teresa learned about vocational training and the possibility of completing this work experience at the Food Share.

Because of you, the Food Share offers a year of vocational training to individuals who have barriers to employment. According to Food Share Director of HR, Cheryl Young, the most common barriers include
criminal conviction, lack of transportation, injury and/or lack of family support.

When Teresa entered the DHS Self-Sufficiency program, which collaborates with employers like the Food Share, her first couple of weeks consisted of various workshops
and classes. Then she began a job search.

The Food Share’s vocational training program was a perfect fit for her and it provided the work experience necessary to move forward with her life. Teresa’s training took place in the warehouse. Sorting fresh food requires knowledge of food safety, compliance and quality assurance.

“A lot of stuff that has reached its sell-by date is still good for another 5 days or so when refrigerated, like milk,” Teresa said. “This is something I never knew until I worked here.”

During training, she learned how to use a pallet jack and took forklift classes – important skills to gain when working in a busy warehouse.

“I had never worked in a warehouse setting, so I had to learn everything,” Teresa said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into tasks that seem so simple.”

Her vocational training ended early last summer and she was hired at the Food Share in August.

“Coming back, I felt more confident,” Teresa said. “I also like the fact that I could bring my kids [to work]” Teresa said. “They know we used to get food boxes, so it’s eye opening for them, too.”

Her job now as the Food Share’s Warehouse Generalist is to sort and organize retail donations. She then brings it downstairs to a “shopping” area where pantries and meal sites can pick from the daily assortment.

“Teresa shows up every day. She is organized, works hard and looks for ways to improve our processes,” Cheryl said.

Because of you, Teresa has a job that puts food on her table and gives her the opportunity to continue learning and to give back.

“Knowing that what I’m doing is helping people is just awesome,” Teresa said. “I’ve never had this kind of a job!”