Huskies against Hunger, a group of UW Tacoma alumni and student volunteers, are looking for volunteers to assist with the St. Leo Food Connection Summer Meals program during the week of July 2nd through July 6th, but not July 4th. Volunteers will help make sandwiches and prepare snacks in sack lunches for children that are age 18 and younger that are in Tacoma and Pierce County and are part of the free and reduced lunch program. Work shifts for volunteers will take place July 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th from 8 am to 11 am at the Food Connection Annex located at 1411 South Yakima Tacoma, WA 98405 (the former Allen AME Church).
Janet Runbeck, UW Tacoma Alum 2006, explained a little bit about the program, “The Food Connection is one of the biggest food banks in Pierce County. The Food Connection is at the old St. Leo’s Catholic school. It’s huge in comparison to other food banks and it started in 1982. As the Food Connection grows, it started offering more services such as the children’s back pack program. Teachers were noticing that kids in free and reduced lunch programs were going hungry over the weekend. The Back Pack Program blossomed and each kid was given a back pack on Friday afternoon with food and brought the back pack back on Monday afternoon. The weekend back pack program started in 2008. The Food Connection hosted its first Summer Meals site in 2007. This entailed serving lunch and snacks to approximately 25 children on weekdays throughout the summer. Since many of the children we serve receive free or reduced meals during the school year, this helped them continue to receive adequate nutrition during the summer months. Presently, we serve 600 kids a day. We need volunteers to pack back packs and other volunteers to drive to these back packs to meal site locations where the children pick them up.”
Janet shared what she thought of the program, “This will be my first time volunteering for this particular program. I don’t volunteer unless I know the players and I know Kevin Glackin-Coley, manager of the Food Connection, is an excellent manager and does amazing work. The man has provided an amazing amount of services and products to those in need. I have no qualms and it’ll be well organized and the kids that are the beneficiary of the program deserve it. When you work with people like Kevin, he’s just a class act. Catholic Community Services is a wonderful organization where their mission is to help those in need. The Food Connection is a highly respected food bank; we have over 65 banks in this county and the Food Connection is one of the better ones by far. When you donate hours and dollars with them, you can trust it will be used properly.”
Janet discussed the best thing about the program, “It brings together a group of like minded folks because the UW Tacoma employees, students, and alum do a worthwhile service project that benefits a deserving population that is managed by a highly respected non-profit agency. It’s a partnership that maximizes the efficiencies of all those concerned.” According to Janet, many people do not know, “How efficient the program uses its dollars, volunteers, and partnerships. They see hungry children all over the county after lunches are made and sack lunches are driven to the kids. It maximizes all the resources to reach the most number of kids. There are 8 meal sites for these kids that the lunches are delivered to for these kids. [Specific meal site locations can be accessed at: http://foodconnection.org/”
When asked who she recommended volunteer, Janet replied, “Anybody who’s grateful that they’re not hungry because even if you can’t donate time you can donate a $1 and it can be stretched a lot. One can donate money or volunteer time or do both. It’s important to make sure that the agency you’re donating and volunteering to is worthy and this is a very worthy organization.”
For those that are interested in volunteering, please visit: http://foodconnection.org/rebecca_summermeals.asp
“This is our first push to do Huskies against Hunger and I’m trusting for an overwhelming response,” Janet concluded.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com