March to a Million Meals: The Power of Volunteers

Writer: Elyssa Morataya
Published: Updated:

The Harry Chapin Foodbank feeds 250,000 people every month in Southwest Florida, but it couldn’t do it without the help of its many volunteers.

March to a Million Meals has met its goal of providing 1,000,000 meals to families in need, thanks to the help of the community and the volunteers at the Harry Chapin Food Bank who ensure food is packaged for hungry families.

“The value of one volunteer hour is over $31. We’re able to maximize that to our bottom line,” said Stuart Haniff, Chief Development Officer for the food bank, “and that’s why we’re able to say 96 cents of every dollar goes directly to food.”

All of that money adds up quickly: the work done by more than 4,400 volunteers adds up to more than $2 million of in-kind service every year.

Tamara has been volunteering at food distributions in Fort Myers for years.

“I do it because I feel like I’ve just had so much given to me in my life, and I wanted to give back,” said Tamara.

Twice a week, she hands out fresh vegetables and other nutritious, family-friendly food.

“It makes me feel great, and I feel like I get more than I give.” Tamara, talking about her expierence volunteering.

Nicole and Dave are among the other volunteers. Nicole said she got the idea to volunteer after seeing WINK’s coverage of March to a million Meals years ago.

“We learned from the March for a Million Meals that this was a really important part of our community, and we wanted to be involved,” Nicole said.

Nicole and Dave said coming to volunteer is the best part of their week, and they understand the importance of the work they do.

“We’re lucky that we can go to the grocery store and buy what we need for our week. Coming here, we realize there’s so many people that just don’t have that luxury,” said Dave, “and we come here, we’re busy from the moment we walk through the door to the moment we leave, and we leave here energized and fulfilled.”

Those interested can still donate to March to a Million Meals until March 1.

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