On a chilly morning the week before Christmas, a dozen Minnesota Food Bloggers and friends met at Second Harvest Heartland for a morning of volunteering. Thanks to the organizational prowess of Meghan Likes, we were able to connect with each other while donating our time to a cause close to our hearts. It was an meaningful morning — the kind where you use your hands, talk with others, and won’t quickly forget what you’ve learned.
Twice a week, Second Harvest receives four bins like this, full of discarded tortillas from Catallia Mexican Foods. As our guide, Quinn, asked us: “Does this look like food to you?”
The good news is, instead of it being thrown out, Second Harvest now — with the help of its volunteers — turns these less-than-perfect tortillas into the beautiful gift of food. We sorted, stacked, and packaged the tortillas to be sent out to food banks across the country.
The tortillas took up the better part of our shift, but as soon as we finished there was more work to be done. Two large bins of potatoes were brought in, and we spent the next 45 minutes putting them in large sacks to be shipped out.
We were released from our duties a little early and were very fortunate to have a chat with Ray Ahlgren, the Director of Service Center Operations. Ray took time out of his busy day to let us know just how much Second Harvest Heartland has been needed in recent years. The number of people visiting food banks has grown by leaps and bounds during the recession, and Second Harvest is working hard to keep up. Ray’s spirit had a feeling of optimism, in spite of the overwhelming task at hand. There is lots of work to be done every day, and Second Harvest is always grateful to have volunteers donate their time to help brothers and sisters in need.
For all its serious work, the staff of Second Harvest Heartland isn’t without a sense of humor. They keep a collection of ancient foodstuffs that have been donated during food drives, and Quinn couldn’t resist showing us his favorite: a box of instant “food” from the 1960s, still in the original packaging.
If you live in the Twin Cities and want to donate your time to Second Harvest, take a moment right now and sign up for a shift. Sign up with your co-workers, your basketball team, your family — or all of them! Volunteering together is a wonderful way to bond. If you’re short on time, consider making a donation. You can even set it up for them to automatically receive a donation from your bank account every month. Another fun idea is to raise money at an event. The Minnesota Food Bloggers have done this on a few different occasions and raised over $3,000!
On a final note, Second Harvest Heartland will be holding their seventh annual Vintner Ball on Saturday, February 25th. Tickets are $150 to attend this “world-class, charitable wine tasting with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Twin Cities community and a deserving cause.” Visit their website to reserve your tickets today!subscribe to my RSS feed!