April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and the Food Bank will be recognizing and celebrating the hundreds of Mahoning Valley residents that give their time to help feed our friends and neighbors in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties throughout the year.
Each week, more than 100 individuals volunteer their time to sort and re-box food for distribution, pull orders, bag bulk cereal and pasta, and assist with clerical work and special events. Last year, volunteers across the Valley gave more than 15,000 hours, which is the equivalent of 7 full-time staff positions. Each day of the week, 15-20 volunteers work in the repack room preparing food for distribution.
“Volunteers are the lifeline for the Food Bank and member agencies,” said Mike Iberis, executive director of the Food Bank. “They come individually or through their company or their place of worship.” In addition to those that come to the Food Bank, many give their time off-site assisting with the BackPack and Mobile Pantry programs.
The Food Bank has the support of local churches, including Christ Episcopal Church in Warren, Grace Evangelistic Temple in Youngstown, and Brookfield United Methodist Church in Brookfield who pack and deliver the bags to local elementary schools and distribute the backpacks to the students.
The Mobile Pantry operates in rural areas including Lake Milton and Goshen Township in Mahoning County, Mecca in Trumbull County, and Franklin Township in Columbiana County. Volunteers are instrumental in distributing the bags and boxes of food to the recipients.