With Thanksgiving steadily approaching, many students and staff will be heading to wherever they call home to relax, eat and spend time with family without the worry of classes. For those staying in Bloomington, the extra time off lends opportunities to volunteer at local food banks and soup kitchens to help members of the community who may be in need this holiday season.
According to dosomething.org, 1 in 6 people in the United States face hunger, 49 million Americans have a hard time putting food on the table and more and more people are relying on donations and volunteering provided by food banks to survive.
Bloomington has many opportunities for people who wish to volunteer and donate, according to Bloomington Volunteer Network’s website. Places like the Community Kitchen of Monroe County will be open on Thanksgiving to serve meals to those in need.
“On a weekly basis, we are open Monday through Saturday, so as far as warm meals, we do just over 2,000,” said Tim Clougher, assistant director at the community kitchen. “When you take into account the meals we do for after-school programs for kids, backpack buddies and other programs we have, it’s probably quite a bit more than that — I’d venture to say probably about twice that.”
Clougher said people who are looking to volunteer can call the Community Kitchen’s phone number to see when shifts are available to be covered, and if there isn’t a chance to volunteer, grocery cards and monetary donations are accepted by the kitchen as well.
Another opportunity for volunteering comes from a local food pantry, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. According to its website, the food pantry strives to increase access to healthy foods for all people in need.
“We see about 3,800 people a week. On average, that is a little bit over 700 a day,” said Thomas Vanderplough, the volunteer coordinator for MHC.
According to the food pantry's website, MHC relies on volunteers and community support to keep the programs and opportunities it provides up and running.
"To volunteer in the pantry, you just have to complete a volunteer orientation first," Vanderplough said. "After that orientation, shifts usually run two hours, weekly shifts if you can."
Vanderplough said there will be a volunteer orientation on Nov. 20 at 4 p.m.
The Community Kitchen is located at 1515 S. Rogers St. and will be open Thanksgiving day to serve those in need. MHC is located at 1100 W. Allen St. and will be serving patrons through next week as well, according to their websites.
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