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Meat Day at the Vermont Foodbank–How Four Tons of Meat Gets to Hungry Vermonters

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Pallets piled above our heads with boxes of frozen meat faced our team of volunteers at the Vermont Foodbank one rainy morning. We donned gloves, uncapped markers, and got to work sorting the meat. In the next few hours, we experienced some of the hard work it takes to feed the Foodbank’s 153,000 customers. One group of volunteers inspected the meat and marked it with the Foodbank’s initials. Another sorted it according to the type of meat and packed it into Foodbank boxes. A third group sealed, weighed, and labeled the boxes for delivery to one of 270 food shelves and meal sites around Vermont. As we finished one pallet, Foodbank staff rolled in another until, after nearly three hours, we had processed 8,000 lbs of meat–enough for 12,000 meals. Pork chops, ham steaks, burgers, bologna, chicken pot pies, ribs, sausage, and even packaged bacon mac and cheese are among the 800,000 lbs of protein donated to the Vermont Foodbank every year. All these passed through our hands during our volunteer morning at the Foodbank, sparking conversations about favorite foods and special recipes. It was a timely reminder of how food builds community and social ties—and of how many Vermonters don’t have enough to eat during the coldest time of the year. A big shout out is due to Hannafords Supermarkets, which donates most of this surplus food. On the morning we were there, Trader Joe’s products were also featured. In order to move the tons of meat they receive to those who need it, the Foodbank relies heavily on volunteers. Our team was warmly welcomed and assured that the 8,000 pounds we processed would soon be in the hands of hungry Vermonters. We left with an intention to return again for another morning of focused but valuable work.