For the next couple weeks I will be posting sections of chapter six of my book, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. I wrote the book to teach people who lead volunteers to do good work in your community.
This is section six and is a chance for you, my blog readers, to enjoy the book for free.
SORTING THE FOOD
Once you have collected all of your food, the next step is to sort it. One of my co-leaders named Sarah Moore does most of the sorting, but for simplicity sake, I’ve written this portion and she’s edited it. So even though it says “I” realize that it’s Sarah who laid down the thoughts and ideas for this part. Also, this is written from the perspective of having a large amount of food that you’re delivering. The first two years we sorted and packed all the food in the living room of my apartment.
To start, all the food is brought to the center of the room (by volunteers of course). Then another group of pre-organized volunteers sorts the food by categories and places it on designated tables. One of the many outstanding things Sarah does is organize tables to help sort the food. A diagram of the tables she organizes is in the appendix. Each table has a nice, large label on it that says what food belongs there. We also have areas for much of the miscellaneous food that we can’t use because it is broken open, perishable, too old, etc.
Once the volunteers have dumped all the food in the center of the room and sorted it to the appropriate tables, they count it. Send volunteers in pairs with a pen and paper to count the exact amount of food you have for each category. This is critical to know if you have enough food in each category or if you will need to buy more. Sarah is very diligent about this and does an amazing job in this role.
Most of this work of sorting the food and counting it takes place on Friday night and Saturday morning the week before Thanksgiving. We work our hardest to get it all done on Friday night, but if there is a little left to do, we do it early Saturday morning. Once you have the food counted and know how much food you have, then you have to purchase any food you still need.