Have you ever wondered what happens to food once it has been donated to the Food Bank? Read on for an insider’s view of the food sorting process and how it is distributed to those in need.
Nonperishable foods are a staple to the Food Bank’s work. Many local grocery stores have Food Bank donation bins to collect food from patrons who visit their store. Once the bins are full, one of our Food Bank trucks or one of our “Barrel Buddy” volunteers come to pick up the food and bring it back to our warehouse.
The food bins are then weighed and combined with a variety of other cans and nonperishable foods that have been donated to us through food drives, or by members of the community who drop food off at the warehouse.
After a large amount of food has been combined, it is placed in our “sorting room.” Volunteers, who we rely heavily upon, sort the food into one of 20 different categories. These categories range from canned proteins to breakfast foods to pastas and rice.
Once the food has been sorted into the various categories, then the re-boxing process begins. Again, volunteers help weigh and pack each of the sorted food categories into boxes. Weighing and boxing the food helps the warehouse staff keep track of what food items we have in our warehouse and is helpful for inventory.
The boxed, categorized food is then placed on a pallet and stored on our shelves. It is put into the inventory system for distribution. Next, our Agency Relations team submits an “order” to the warehouse for each of our agencies based on their needs. For example, if one of our agencies needs canned vegetables, then Agency Relations may request extra vegetables specifically for them.
Once the agency’s order is gathered by warehouse staff, the agencies then come to the Food Bank to pick up their order – free of charge. Our agencies are made up of food pantries, meal sites, group homes, shelters and soup kitchens, which all serve people in need. The food is taken to the agency where it is distributed to their clients.
We can’t do this work without your support. Each nonperishable food item that is donated to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is so important. Every can of tuna, box of oatmeal or jar of peanut butter all make up orders that will go to agencies and will then make it into the hands of those who need it most.