Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS’) various food programs and family services support over 150,000 people each month. This is no small task and SFBFS most certainly could not do it alone! This is where SFBFS’ Partner Agency Network comes in.
SFBFS distributes food throughout Sacramento County by servicing a network of 220+ Partner Agencies. Typically, these agencies are food pantries such as Orangevale and Elk Grove Food Banks, faith based organizations and nonprofits like South Sacramento Interfaith Partnership and Mercy Housing.
All of the food distributed by the Partner Agency Network is stored at SFBFS’ Food Bank Services campus in North Sacramento. Partner Agencies are able to see what items are available by browsing SFBFS’ online inventory system. Then, they place an order to be picked up at the distribution center or delivered by SFBFS to one of several centralized drop off locations. Just last year alone, SFBFS’ Partner Agency Network distributed over 26 million pounds of food to Sacramento County.
Before the food can be put into the online inventory system for Partner Agencies to order, it must be sorted, boxed and weighed by volunteers. As one might imagine, this requires an incredible amount of effort with many hands at work. This is where 17-year-olds Simerjit Kaur and Krishna Sun come in.
Friends and local high school seniors Simerjit and Krishna were assigned 30 hours of summertime volunteer service as a graduation requirement. Fellow classmates recommended SFBFS while the two were looking into options for their community service. They quickly attended volunteer orientation to find out what opportunities were available and began assisting at SFBFS’ Food Bank Services campus.
“I participate in food sorting and bagging during each shift. This usually involves anything from bagging hundreds of produce items to organizing carts full of food into its appropriate bin. I have also helped bag many emergency food supply kits and box food through the assembly line,” Simerjit explained. “As someone who likes to keep myself organized, this particular program had opportunities that pertain to
my abilities and I wanted to support the well-being of my local community and create valuable interactions in the process.”
“Every day, Krishna was in at 8am sharp,” explained Matthew Pruitt, Volunteer Services Assistant Manager at SFBFS. “He would help our Receptionist for about an hour with administrative work, Simerjit would arrive at 9am and then they would go hit the warehouse and get to work. They were an extremely motivated team.” Matthew said.
The son of first generation, Southeast Asian immigrants, Krishna shared why he sought out volunteering with SFBFS. “My family used to be low income. They received some help from neighbors in similar situations in Oak Park. While trying to get work experience, I wanted to at least contribute back to the community in some way while I still had the free time.”
When they are not volunteering, Simerjit and Krishna both enjoy spending time with their friends and families. Krishna participates in an internship with SMUD and is a member of the robotics team at his school. Simerjit loves waking up early, making the most of her day and staying focused on academics.
“The two of them were simply outstanding volunteers,” Matthew shared. “No matter what I needed them to do, they were up for the challenge. A few weeks back we were in a pinch and needed to put together 100 emergency food bags for our CalFresh Outreach team by the end of the day. They rocked all of them out in two hours!”
“During my experience at SFBFS, I’ve gained several tips for having good work ethic and maintaining conversations with people I’ve only just been acquainted with.” Krishna explained. “The best moments were meeting other volunteers of varying backgrounds, such as Intel workers and even a lawyer. Most were friendly and great to be around. I will definitely come back in the near future.”
When asked about her experience volunteering at SFBFS, Simerjit expressed a similar sentiment “Being able to create positive interactions with other volunteers made my experience at the food bank much more memorable.” she explained. “The food bank has been a welcoming space for me to get the crucial tasks in my program completed. I hope to volunteer more in the future!”
The Volunteer Services Team at SFBFS can’t wait to have them back!