Volunteer Spotlight: Barb

1. How were you introduced to Food at First?/ How did you get involved at Food at First? 

I can’t remember! I’m guessing I first volunteered at Food at First maybe ten years ago. I don’t recall how I heard about it, but probably in the newspaper as a public service thing. Over time, I’ve had many different jobs. The first time I worked in the kitchen preparing, serving, and cleaning up meals. I did that for several years. Then I started working at the pantry on the west side [when Food at First was located across town]. I just loved that. It was a much smaller group than downtown, and we rarely had more than 30 people. We knew each other’s names, I made Christmas presents for them and it was just a very intimate group for all the clients that came in and for the volunteers. 

I’ve been volunteering here at this Friday afternoon job for many months, maybe a year. After Covid-19, I kept coming in on Friday afternoons. There’s so muchmore to do when we have to package up meals and give them to people. It’s kept us very busy. 

2. What attracted you to Food at First and its programs? 

I really like to be involved in non-profits that help people. I can’t think of anything more important than eating. The kind of hunger that most of us experience is, “Oh, my lunch is late,” but it’s hard to imagine how a lot of people feel here. I know that some of them have other food, but I think of the homeless that come in. It’s a real need. 

3. What do you most appreciate about Food at First? 

I just appreciate the services we provide. I find that everyone who works here is kind and caring. We don’t always interact a huge amount, but there’s a camaraderie when we do. It’s well organized and you never know what you’re going to have on a given day for a meal! 

4. Why do you enjoy coming to/volunteering at Food at First? 

There are a lot of jobs that I do. My job is to prep for the kitchen volunteers who are for prepping cooking and serving the meals. I feel good about doing the jobs, even the little jobs like getting rid of rotten potatoes from the crates and cutting up apples for applesauce. But those jobs are important, and we can go home and know that it was a day well spent. 

I always have a feeling of gratitude and am grateful to be able to work here, and I know that the clients who come here are grateful as well. 

5. What would you tell people who are interested in coming to Food at First? 

I’ve told a number of people about Food at First. Sometimes I’ll come out of the grocery store and see someone with a sign that they need food and I tell them they can get free meals and groceries from Food at First. For potential volunteers I’d say, it’s really important work, and we can always use more help. You can usually choose your own hours!