5 Things I Learned from Volunteering at a Food Bank

I am a communications professional at Polycom, Inc. Every year Polycom provides its employees with volunteer time off to support their local communities. Yesterday I had an opportunity to volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB) in San Jose, CA with some of Polycom’s executives and executive assistants.

Here are some things I learned while volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank:

  1. In the U.S. we have a culture of food waste, something I never realized before. Millions of Americans are starving while others are throwing away perfectly good food. A lot of this food is deemed too ugly or imperfect to sell by big retailers and thrown away.
  2. Second Harvest Food Bank serves about 250,000 people in Silicon Valley every month. The food doesn’t just go to the homeless as I had expected, but also to low income families who can’t afford a healthy diet.
  3. Second Harvest Food Bank has a no waste policy. All of the fruit, vegetables and other food that does not get served to the community is brought to local farmers to be fed to the animals.
  4. Organizations like Second Harvest Food Bank are everywhere, and they need your help. Volunteers are the main drivers of these initiatives and none of this would be possible without the millions of pounds of food donated each year and the hardworking volunteers who sort, package and deliver the food.
  5. This one might be obvious, but it’s something I never really considered before: Food banks and charitable organizations don’t just need volunteers during the holidays, their efforts continue year round. 
Left to Right; Polycom's Liza Johnson, Shelby Whitzel, Judy Ortega-Lee and Rose Alcantar
Left to Right; Polycom's Liza Johnson, Shelby Whitzel, Judy Ortega-Lee and Rose Alcantar

I continue to be amazed by the amount of food we waste in the U.S., while so many people are starving. It is a tough realization to see the truth about our society. We are unnecessarily wasteful. But, there are ways to make a difference. Make a commitment to your local community—go out and volunteer, donate what you can and strive to waste less.

Let’s #reclaim the conversation about #foodwaste. Together we can help those in need.

Polycom's Chief Human Resources Officer, Laura Owen
Polycom's Chief Human Resources Officer, Laura Owen
An @UglyFruitandVeg potato saved by my Polycom colleague <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/author/cam100-958">Cameron Craig</
An @UglyFruitandVeg potato saved by my Polycom colleague Cameron Craig.

Follow me on Twitter: @swhitzel

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