We asked our Manager of Volunteer Engagement, Eli Farmer, about his work, and what volunteers mean for Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
What do you enjoy most about working for a local hunger-relief organization?
There’s a tremendous amount of job satisfaction with Second Harvest, but I think my favorite part is getting to engage with volunteers. The one thing people can never acquire more of is time, so when individuals and groups are willing to give us their time, that I think is the greatest gift we can receive. Every time a volunteer walks through our door, it truly gets me excited to work!
When you are not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love going for walks with my dog, Odis (he’s a black lab/husky mix, and he’s the sweetest dog ever), I also am a bit of a gym rat, I love playing video games, I read fiction novels and I teach high school marching band during the fall.
In your eyes, why is volunteering so important in the fight against hunger?
Any successful community relies on its members helping one another. Lots of middle Tennesseans are very fortunate to have all of their basic needs met. However, many of our neighbors are not that fortunate; 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 7 children in our state experience food insecurity on a daily basis. However, thanks to our volunteers, Second Harvest is able to combat these numbers in a very significant way. So many kind and compassionate members of our community continue to step up and lend a helping hand to those that need it. Neighbors helping neighbors is why our organization is so successful!
What role does volunteering play in Second Harvest’s mission?
Second Harvest quite literally could not do what we do without our volunteers. Many of the projects that we run are 100% volunteer-driven, meaning that there aren’t any employees sorting food or packing up boxes; those projects only run because of our volunteers. We have hundreds of volunteers every week, and they are a crucial part of our operations. Each volunteer shift can produce hundreds of packed boxes of food, or sort through thousands of pounds of food from our grocery rescue program. Volunteers are responsible for handling millions of pounds of food, and therefore providing millions of meals every year!