Hundreds volunteer at Food Bank CENC Branches on MLK Day

Activity round-up from our Greenville, Raleigh, and Durham Branches:

Over 300 volunteers sorted food at our Greenville Branch on MLK Day 2017

Over 300 volunteers sorted food at our Greenville Branch on MLK Day 2017

For most Americans, Martin Luther King Day is a day off from work and school. But for hundreds of our volunteers, it’s a day to roll up their sleeves and head to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina to help feed their friends and neighbors.

The Food Bank is proud to participate in the national day of service that encourages Americans to engaged in community service activities that empower and strengthen local communities, while honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on the federal holiday.

At our Greenville Branch, volunteering on MLK Day has become a can’t-miss annual event – dating back to 2008. All three local TV stations, WCTI, WITN, and WNCT, sent reporters to do stories. This year Angel Ray, Greenville Volunteer Services Coordinator, welcomed 319 volunteers from STEM-Corps East, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., NPHC of Pitt County, ECU Volunteer and Service Learning Center students, Pitt County 4-H, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the Girl Scouts. The army of do-gooders bagged potatoes into family-sized bags, which the Greenville Mobile Food Pantry will distribute across the 10 counties served by our Greenville Branch.

ECU Students Nicole & Lizzie organized their fellow Pirates to volunteer

ECU Students Nicole & Lizzie organized their fellow Pirates to volunteer

Future @dstinc1913 Members Morgan & Kendell @FoodBankCENC #GreenvilleNC Br 2 assist people w food insecurity

Future Delta Sigma Theta members Morgan & Kendell volunteered on MLK Day

WITN's Lynnette Taylor covers MLK Day of Service at our Greenville Branch

WITN’s Lynnette Taylor covers MLK Day of Service at our Greenville Branch

Pitt County 4-H volunteers sort potatoes on MLK Day

Pitt County 4-H sorts potatoes on MLK Day

We have more volunteers on MLK Day than we do on a typical week,” said Angel. “And when they leave, they tell me to put them on the calendar again for MLK Day next year.”

Chevonne Sharpe of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.’s Rho Zeta Zeta chapter has helped elevate MLK Day at the Greenville Branch over the years.

“I want more children to learn to give back through community service. We’ve gone from 60, to 100, to about 250 children coming out to help this year. They all walked away saying ‘I helped,’” Chevonne said. “Not everybody is fortunate enough to have food at home or healthy meals. We have to help each other and continue the legacy that Dr. Martin Luther King had.”

The MLK Grenville potato sort is part of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.’s Unity Youth Day of Service, and also part of Food Bank CENC’s multi-branch effort to make MLK Day “a day on, not a day off.”

History made in Raleigh

This MLK Day was yet another ‘first’ for the Raleigh Branch, since moving operations to a bigger, better facility on Capital Boulevard last October.

One of the facility’s new features is the BASF Clean Room: a dedicated, sanitary space to repackage bulk foods into family-sized amounts.

BASF Clean Room

NC School of Sciences and Mathematics sorted crackers on MLK Day in Raleigh

NC School of Sciences and Mathematics sorted crackers on MLK Day in Raleigh

“Our MLK Day volunteers bagged up bulk crackers that we received from Austin Crackers. That’s a new project for us, because you need to have a clean room to do it,” said Volunteer Services Manager, Dave Goodrich.

Sorting crackers may not seem like a big deal, but having a clean room means we can now accept more bulk food donations – such as these crackers – because we can repackage them in compliance with food safety standards. The more food donations we can accept, the more food we can provide for our neighbors in need, and the more volunteer projects we can host for our supporters.

In an example of ultimate collaboration, Food Bank CENC partnered with the United Way of the Greater Triangle to recruit volunteer groups from NC School of Sciences and Mathematics and Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Making a difference in Durham

Like Greenville, our Durham Branch also had potatoes to sort – and 60 young women from St. Mary’s School were up for the task. Thanks to their work, the potatoes will reach local Partner Agencies in the six counties served by our Durham Branch later this week.

St. Mary's Students bag potatoes on MLK Day at our Durham Branch St. Mary's Students bag potatoes on MLK Day at our Durham Branch

“When you volunteer at the Food Bank, you’re meeting a very basic need. We have food, people need food. It’s very simple,” said Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Liz Moss. “It’s immediate gratification for our volunteers to know that the produce they’re sorting will provide immediate help to local food-insecure families.”

As a former teacher, Liz found special meaning in hosting a school group on MLK Day.

“Not only is it important, but it’s a great experience especially for a school to come out on what would normally be a day off for the students,” said Liz. “To take that time and actually do something for those in need is a really good learning experience. By ingraining that feeling of giving back, they’ll continue to serve throughout their lives.

St. Mary's Students bag potatoes on MLK Day at our Durham Branch