Volunteer Appreciation Month

April is National Volunteer Month!

None of the programs at Berkeley Food Network would be possible without the dedication and selflessness of our phenomenal community of volunteers. Our volunteers ensure that fresh and healthy food is available to all members of the Berkeley and Albany communities— but more than that, volunteers empower BFN to expand the scope and effectiveness of our work in pursuit of our goal of ending hunger altogether. 

When the coronavirus pandemic turned our normal lives upside down, many of our neighbors experienced food insecurity for the first time in their lives. Where a sudden increase in the population we serve could have overwhelmed us, BFN was able to successfully meet the challenge head-on. We never could have succeeded without the overwhelming number of friends who continued or started volunteering with BFN during these challenging times. 

BFN welcomed its first group of volunteers in February 2018, packing 40 grocery bags twice a month for Berkeley Unified School District families. With COVID-19, that number grew to 600 bags twice a month. Similarly, when BFN first opened its on-site pantry in November 2019, we maintained service with only six regular volunteers. When the pandemic forced us to modify our pantry programs, volunteers showed up in force to keep things running and meet increased need: in 2020 alone, the BFN community benefited from the generous assistance of more than 600 volunteers!

As the unique hardships of 2020 begin to shift to the rearview mirror, we find that many of the friendly faces we first saw in the early days of the pandemic are still here many months later. Volunteers who initially stepped up to mitigate an unprecedented crisis have found ongoing purpose and enrichment in returning every week to serve our neighbors.

To our amazing and dedicated volunteers:
We rely on you, our dedicated volunteers, to power this machine! You run the onsite pantry 5 days a week, pre-pack 100’s of grocery bags, process recovered food, re-bag bulk items, sort produce, process incoming inventory, load our vans, unload our vans … and when it’s done you ask … What else can I do?

The impact of your service ripples through our community in ways you may or may not see. There are smiles from pantry clients and quiet statements of gratitude. There are emails from agency partners who report on how members of their community are gleefully surprised by the abundance of produce they receive. Make no mistake – this can’t happen without you. We are deeply grateful  for the hours and the dedication and the heart that you consistently bring to our warehouse.

-If you’re not currently a volunteer but are interested in becoming one, we’d love to have you! To sign up, visit our volunteer page:  https://www.berkeleyfoodnetwork.org/events/