Fruitful trip to the food bank

Posted on October 11, 2011

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A team of Tellabs employees celebrated the holidays by volunteering at the Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB) a few years ago.  I helped pack frozen meat, others checked expiration dates, and another group sorted large bins of fruit.

We still remember tossing rotten apples into the dumpster, so people in need received only the best fruit. And we took turns handling the icy pork chops to keep our hands warm. It wasn’t glamorous, but we bonded over stinking fruit and frozen fingertips. People enjoyed it enough to do it again.

Perhaps it’s this kind of team spirit that keeps thousands of volunteers coming back for more. People give about 90,000 hours to NIFB each year — worth about $2.3 million to the food bank. This support enabled delivery of 35 million pounds of food in 2010.

NIFB treasures its volunteers, and as of Sept. 30, welcomes them to a brand new building in Geneva, Illinois. Because the facility is larger and more efficient, the food bank can double its capacity to deliver food to the hungry.

The new processing rooms are airy and bright with natural light. It’s an inviting place to sort and pack food. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves here on our next volunteer day.

NIFB is also working to make it even easier to sign up. The food bank will use a Tellabs Foundation grant to enable volunteers to find and reserve time slots online. The system will also automate some record keeping for staff.

Want to check out the new building? Join NIFB at an open house on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Highlights include family activities, exercise sessions (with Biggest Loser contestants Jerry and Estella Hayes), cooking demonstrations, tours and information about how you can help.

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