With hundreds of bags of fresh produce to pack for our partner agencies during the holiday season, several Foodlink staff members joined volunteers Friday to ensure the job got done.
And they got an extra set of helping hands from a U.S. Senator.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stopped by Foodlink Dec. 16 to help pack the bags, which included fresh apples, carrots, onions, potatoes and cabbage. The bags are assembled this time of year by volunteers and then delivered to more than 100 of our partner agencies. A grant from Citizens Bank provided funding for the purchase of the various food items. In November and December, Foodlink fulfills orders for more than 17,000 bags.
It’s one example of how Foodlink is emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables and trying to increase the amount of nutritious food we distribute to our network. Gillibrand, well aware of our recent growth, spoke to the media after volunteering.
“In just a few short years, they went from half-a-million pounds of fruits and vegetables and now they’re at 5 million pounds, which is incredible,” Gillibrand said. “So they are really making a difference and it’s exciting to be part of something that really cares about people.”
With the exception of the carrots, all of the produce packed into each bag, which weigh approximately 14 pounds each, are locally grown.
With the help of staff and volunteers from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 850 bags were packed in the span of just a few hours.
Before Gillibrand packed bags, she was given a quick tour of Foodlink’s new Community Kitchen. The kitchen staff officially moved from Joseph Avenue to Mt. Read Boulevard on Dec. 5. The senator was particularly interested in our Value-Added Processing program, in which we slice apples for distribution to local children.
“It’s really exciting how much they’re augmenting the work they do, and getting fresh fruits and vegetables to families,” Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand said the holiday season is a great time to volunteer, but the need exists year-round. She encouraged everyone to sign up for a shift at Foodlink at some point throughout the year.
“It makes a difference for families who are food insecure to have this resource here,” Gillibrand said. “It makes all the difference, especially around the holidays.”