Friday, December 5, 2014

We shipped 10,000 thanksgiving turkeys to local families - thanks to 1,000 volunteers.

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Guest Post by Mike Gehring

The scene at the SHARE Food Network on Friday, November 21 can only be described as organized chaos. Picture a large warehouse, decorated with banners and positive posters covering its far wall. Below that, a long row of tall, wooden tables runs the length of the room. At each table, a volunteer is ready to hand out potatoes, frozen fish, onions, a box of stuffing or any other of several food items.
Standing at the end of row of tables are boxes and boxes of frozen turkeys – tens of thousands of turkeys. For two days, thousands more volunteers come through and pick-up orders of food packages – this month, all of them Thanksgiving meals for a family.

Welcome to Thanksgiving at the SHARE Food Network. Over the course of November 21-22, more than 10,000 thanksgiving dinners were distributed to customers across DC, Maryland, Virginia and even West Virginia.  

One gentleman, dressed smartly in his work clothing, took a long lunch break to pickup 110 turkey meals that would be given out at his church. He moved down the line, stacking on boxes, grabbing fruit and checking off his list before sliding a very full cart to the loading bay.
What’s in a food package? Customers who purchased the $40 turkey package received 10-14 lb. turkey with fresh seasonal produce such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, celery, apples, oranges, stuffing mix, elbow macaroni, a holiday pie, and 4-5 lbs. of meats/fish to stock the freezer. Compared to prices in the grocery store, that package saves our customers 50-60% on their food.

That’s right, we said customers. Saving around 50 percent on their groceries.
The easiest way to understand SHARE is to think of it as a grocery store that sells three food package options once a month, every month. We buy the food from the same wholesale companies selling to your local grocery store. The difference is we shop for the bargains or excess food that these suppliers need to sell, and then we ask thousands of volunteers to help get us the orders at their church, school, military outfit, workplace or community center.

One weekend each month, they all come to the warehouse, help us box up the food, help load it into the vans, cars, and trucks, and take it back home to feed hungry families.

SHARE is one of the best ways to help low-income families have a proactive hand in being helped. It may be a small difference to most of us, but the power found in being able to provide for your family, even on a limited budget, can be very empowering.
The unique model of SHARE offers nutritious food to anyone – you, me, a single mother of three struggling to put food on the table, a disabled army veteran, Michael Jordan, Bono, Taylor Swift, or anyone else who eats food. The same goes for volunteers – we have them as young as five and as seasoned as 90.

SHARE was started way back in April of 1990 in partnership with the Knights of Malta. Today, the SHARE Network moves more than 350,000 pounds of food each month to hungry customers and works with 273 locations around the region to distribute the food (that’s your workplace, church, or other gathering spot)!