We left the cool warehouse with sticky shoes and smelling of spoiled bananas, but also with a warm feeling for having helped the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas ensure healthy, fresh food for their clients. Hundreds of cases of bananas had been donated, but when food bank staff checked the produce it was too spoiled to be used. However, the sturdy produce boxes could be salvaged for further use, so 32 USDA volunteers from the Food and Nutrition Service Southwest Regional Office and USDA Risk Management Agency rolled up their sleeves to empty and then reassemble the boxes. This was a great opportunity for us to work together with other USDA employees and see the food bank in operation first hand. The project was part of the January 12th USDA National Day of Service honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Even though we were at the food bank for just a short time, it was so rewarding that I’ve been inspired to volunteer at the food pantry in my own community. In addition to providing a helping hand to the North Texas Food Bank, we gained an appreciation for the care and hard work the food bank does to serve growing numbers of hungry people.
Providing more fresh produce to clients is part of the North Texas Food Bank’s ReThink Hunger initiative. The food bank’s new Dan Morton campus where we worked includes 25,000 square feet of additional cold storage space for produce, which will help the food bank achieve its goal. Even though the latest batch of donated bananas couldn’t be used, the warehouse was full of bins of fresh produce waiting to be sorted and distributed to clients. So, like the old song goes, “Yes, we have no bananas,” but we do have carrots, cauliflower, oranges, and more!