Harvesters

Pack your bags for Northland Night at Harvesters

WRITTEN BY LAUREN FRECHIN

In happens all the time at schools near you — children desperate from hunger are found on Monday mornings hiding food in their pockets.

Teachers in North Kansas City are instructed to watch for signs like these and for good reason. According to feednorthlandkids.org, 1 in 5 Northland kids live in food insecure homes. To combat that, Feed Northland Kids is collaborating with Harvesters for Northland Night at Harvesters.

Volunteers are needed for Thurs., Jan. 28 from 6-8 p.m. to sort donations and fill food bags. This monthly event can accommodate up to 50 volunteers so bring your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. Children 8-or-older are welcome to participate. Similar events will be held on Feb. 18, March 17 and April 21.

Feed Northland Kids is a nonprofit organization focused on addressing weekend nutrition and hunger by providing healthy, kid-friendly foods for school-age children, living north of Kansas City, Mo. They participate in a BackSnack Program, create awareness, raise funding and identify solutions to stop hunger.

Please sign-up in advance at outreach@thecallkc.org if you’re interested in participating.

Five ways volunteering with coworkers can benefit you

WRITTEN AND PHOTOS BY MELISSA COON

Throughout the year, my [previous] employer participates in a variety of philanthropic events. On Fridays, our staff were allowed to "dress down" and wear jeans if they donated to a pre-selected cause. We also participated in community races to help raise awareness for certain initiatives. Additionally, we provided our referral sources with charity giving cards that could be donated to the philanthropy of their choice.

Our company-wide "Give Back Day" was by far our biggest philanthropic event of the year.

One day each year, our entire company closed its doors to allow our staff to volunteer at a local charity. The past two years, we volunteered with Phoenix Family, an organization that strives to empower people living in low-income housing communities with the support they need to gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency.

This year, we decided to volunteer at Harvesters - The Community Food Network. Their mission is to feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow by providing food and related household products to more than 620 not-for-profit agencies including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters and children's homes. Additionally, they offer education programs to increase community awareness of hunger and teach people about proper nutrition.

As a company that promotes health and wellness, ARC Physical Therapy+ felt it only natural for our staff to volunteer at Harvesters.

So, on July 10, our entire company loaded into buses and headed to Harvesters. When we arrived at their Kansas City facility, we were divided into groups to sort food. Some of us assembled canned goods and non-perishable items while others packaged bread to be distributed around the area. We learned that while Harvesters employs more than 90 full-time employees, most of their work comes from the help of volunteers.

The experience was extremely rewarding, as it not only allowed us to come together to serve those less fortunate, but it also provided us with an opportunity to interact with coworkers outside our usual business units. Much like in our personal lives, we get comfortable in our work routines and often forget to take time to get to know those outside our immediate circles.

Volunteering together at Harvesters provided us with an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.

Here's how volunteering alongside your coworkers can benefit your career:

1. DEVELOPS WORK SKILLS

Volunteering with your coworkers can help build teamwork and time management skills.

2. PROVIDES YOU WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS

There is no better way to solidify a relationship than by serving others. Serving side-by-side with your coworkers makes you feel personally involved and connected to one another.

3. ALLOWS YOU TO BREAK OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Volunteering with those outside your usual business unit allows you to foster new relationships with other members of your workplace.

4. MAKES YOU MORE ENGAGED

When you feel connected to your coworkers, you are more likely to enjoy going to work each day. Thus, you are naturally more positive, alert and attentive.

5. IMPROVES YOUR HEALTH (AND THUS, YOUR INTERACTIONS AT WORK)

Studies have shown that volunteering is linked to better physical, mental and emotional health. Specifically, volunteering helps people manage and lower their stress levels. When people are less stressed, they are easier to work with.

So, grab a group of coworkers and join our movement. It will make you successful in more ways than one.

genKC at Harvesters

WRITTEN AND PHOTOS BY MELISSA COON

Research shows that access to nutritious food is key to a healthy community. Unfortunately, 374,660 people are food insecure and missing an estimated 65.6 million meals annually.

Moreover, nearly one in seven people in Kansas and Missouri, alone, are food insecure. This means that while they may have food today, they do not know if there will be food tomorrow or enough food for everyone in their household.

Harvesters is trying to combat this issue.

A regional food bank serving a 26-county area of northwest Missouri and northeastern Kansas, Harvesters provides food and related household products to more than 620 not-for-profit agencies including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, children's homes and others. They also offer education programs to increase community awareness of hunger and teach good nutrition.

I recently had the privilege of visiting their main facility in Kansas City, Mo., when I dedicated my time with the genKC volunteer event at Harvesters. More than 40 young professionals came together on February 25 to pack 1,125 weekend BackSnacks for kids who receive free or reduced-price school meals and 223 monthly commodity food boxes for low-income seniors. Together, we served more than 1,300 individuals.

As someone who is extremely concerned about health and wellness as well as the fact that proper nutrition is not easily accessible, I have always been interested in finding ways to serve those living in "food deserts." Because of this, I was pleased to learn that Harvesters not only aims to "feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow," but they also promote proper nutrition education and include nutrition pamphlets in all of their packages.

The bottom line is this: Everyone wants to live in a community where we can grow, work and lead healthy, productive lives. By coming together to provide nutritious food to underserved areas, we can improve our community's health and economic vitality. It's a win-win.

IMPACT STATISTICS — IN 22 MONTHS, WE’VE HELPED 704 VOLUNTEERS COMPLETE 1,829.5 SERVICE HOURS FOR 41 CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS IN KANSAS CITY.

 




MOBILE FOOD PANTRY WITH CATHOLIC CHARITIES

A quiet chill blanketed the block of 6565 State Ave on the morning of Nov. 15, 2014. However, by midday that quickly changed — and for good reason.

We sent four volunteers that Saturday to assist Catholic Charities of NEKS and Harvesters in a mobile food distribution. The results were overwhelming. While our group helped direct traffic and pass out food perishables at the stop-and-go outdoor pantry, the service numbers began to rack up.

Following three straight hours of giving food to the needy, the final tally sat at 530 households served, which included 1,028 children, 1,051 adults and 270 seniors for a total of 2,349 individuals. It’s no wonder they ran out of food.

In addition to those efforts, we set up another group of UMKC Alpha Phi Omega students to helpMother’s Refuge in mid-November, pushing our impact numbers to 32 KC charities served by 423 individual volunteers for a total of 1,232 service hours.

If you’re interested in volunteering this holiday season, please let us know at brent@thecallkc.org.

COLLECTING FOOD AT 2014 KC REN FEST

One can, two cans, red cans, blue cans. The food donations came in all shapes, shades and sizes at the 2014 Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, we had a small group of volunteers — including a pair of Shawnee Mission Northwest students — collect canned goods for Harvesters at this year’s Ren Fest. It was our second year helping at the event and this time around, the weather was a perfect 70 degrees and sunny.

Before the turkey legs we enjoyed afterwards, here are a few of the pictures we were able to snap. We also found out that Harvesters raised over 4,500 pounds of food that weekend, equating to 3,786 meals.


ANOTHER BREAD EMERGENCY AT HARVESTERS

And the bread just keeps coming.

It was just one week ago thatHarvesters had a huge bread donation and desperately needed help to preserve the food in time. Well, thanks to a second generous offer, one of the largest food networks in the Midwest needs your help again.

Here is the full message we received. If you can help, contact Brent at thecallkc@gmail.com or 877-203-5848.

Harvesters has received another very generous, unanticipated donation of bread and is in urgent need of volunteers to help sort and repackage it for distribution to hungry families and individuals. We have to act fast before it goes bad.

Will you help us? We have two-hour shifts available daily through Wednesday, May 7. Please forward this message to friends and family so they can join in the effort, too! There has been an increased demand on our staff and regular volunteers to sort and distribute the bread. We’re struggling to maintain our regular projects like food sorting and BackSnack packing, which are necessary to feed more than 66,000 people per week.

Thank you in advance for responding quickly to this urgent request. We’re so grateful for your time and compassion!

HARVESTERS NEEDS HELP

A local nonprofit needs your help. If you have an hour or two of free time this week, go volunteer at Harvesters, one of the largest food networks in the Midwest. They had a massive donation of bread that they need re-packaging as soon as possible.

Here are full details on the organization’s call for help:

Harvesters needs volunteers this week to help sort and re-package bread. We’ve received a wonderful, but unexpected large donation of bread and need to process it quickly so we can get it out to our network of agencies.

Ask friends or family members to join you and sign up for a two-hour shift today. It’s an easy and gratifying service opportunity that helps us feed the hungry in our community.

Thank you so much for responding quickly to this request. We are very grateful for your time and your support!

If you need more details on how to get involved with this emergency volunteer need at Harvesters, contact Brent at thecallkc@gmail.com or 877-203-5848.