Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
A group from Shenandoah Life volunteers in the kitchen at the Southwest Virginia Food Bank. Photo courtesy of Walker Nelms
Friday, August 2, 2013
This is the fourth in a series of stories profiling a charity that will benefit from the 2013 Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour on Oct. 11-13.
For more than 30 years, Feeding America Southwest Virginia has challenged itself, its donors and its volunteers to continually improve the supply of food for low-income individuals and families.
The nonprofit was founded in 1981 in Covington as a Total Action Against Poverty program initiated by visionary Cabell Brand. The next year, it became an affiliate of America’s Second Harvest . It changed its name to Feeding America in 2010. Throughout its history, the organization has maintained a culture of integrity of service, progressive innovation and dedication to providing good nutrition for the hungry .
Its headquarter s in a modest-sized warehouse in Salem gives little indication of the significant role it plays in supplying food to those in need. It operates as a food bank by providing food to partner programs that, in turn, distribute the food to approved recipients.
In Franklin and Bedford count ies, the partner programs include Lake Christian Ministries, Agape Center, Triple C Dude Ranch, Heavenly Manna, God’s Provision, Stepping Stone Mission and five other church-based programs. FASWVA has a service area of 26 counties and 10 cities, stretching from Danville to Cumberland Gap — an area larger than Connecticut and New Jersey combined that serves 405 programs.
On average, FASWVA provided 70 percent of the food the partner agencies distributed last year. The agencies pay a nominal shared maintenance contribution of up to 19 cents per pound (an average of 9 cents per pound) Last year, they distributed more than 17.3 million pounds of food and related products worth more than $25 million. Large quantities of donated or rescued food would be discarded and unavailable for human consumption without the FASWVA’s systematic recovery process.
FASWVA, a 501(c)3 organization, accomplishes this from the Salem warehouse and a second even-smaller distribution center in Abingdon because of rapid turnover, or through-flow.
The food comes from national and local donors: 80 percent from individuals, manufacturers and retailers; 14 percent from USDA donations; and 6 percent from purchases . All food is checked before distribution to be sure it is safe for consumption. This inspection is conducted by volunteers under the guidance of James Andrews, an enthusiastic watchdog and cheerleader. The volunteers are first trained in a classroom, and then taken into the quality-control room, where they work under Andrews’ supervision.
During 2011-2012, 4,946 volunteers contributed 26,170 hours of labor. Their help is crucial because the paid staff could not accomplish the required tasks without it. FASWVA’s administrative and fundraising expenses total just 4 percent of its budget, allowing 96 cents of every donated dollar to go toward food for the needy.
More volunteers are needed to sort, inspect and box food items, to perform office tasks and provide building maintenance.
Warehouse volunteers must be 17 or older, although youth ages 14-16 may volunteer if accompanied by an adult. Pre-teens may volunteer as part of a supervised group such as a Girl or Boy Scout troop. Volunteer hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and some Saturdays 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
For information, c ontact Robert Rogers at 342-3011 (ext. 7016) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about Feeding America Southwest Virginia, call 342-3011 or visit email@example.com.
Weather Journal7 wintry scenarios for Sunday