|Donations sorted by volunteers, ready to be bagged|
I thought I had a pretty good picture of the situation until I volunteered at my local food bank, Second Harvest. It serves roughly 247,000 of my neighbors every single month. Most have housing, which costs more in Silicon Valley than most parts of the country. Most also have jobs, which don't necessarily pay more to keep up with the cost of living here.
Of all the numbers I heard, though, one figure changed how I see my role. I had always thought that picking up a few extra items at the store and donating them was a fun, hands-on way to pitch in. Now that I know that the food bank can obtain five times as much food with a dollar as I can, I'm going to be writing checks, instead. For the satisfaction of hands-on participation, there's always showing up at the warehouse and sorting or bagging donations. That only costs a few hours of my time, and I can see the difference I've made right away. Also, it reminds me why I write that check.