Food banks need can-do volunteers

Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat

Amid an all-time high in demand for food, the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency Food Bank in Jamestown is seeking volunteers to help process and distribute donations.

"We've got a lot of donations coming in, so it's a pretty packed warehouse," said David Nickerson, an operational assistant at the food bank. "What we don't have is enough volunteers."

The ATCAA Food Bank now claims more than 1,000 volunteers, about 800 of them regular, according to director Lee Kimball. Still, the increased demand for donated food has created the immediate need for more help.

"We're going into 2013 with greater demand than ever," Kimball said. "We want to start (the year) with a full deck."

Demand for donated food grew with the recession and hasn't diminished, according to Kimball. She doesn't yet have statistics on this year's spike in demand, but she says rising fuel costs have made food more expensive and are a likely cause.

Kimball also anticipates that the looming "fiscal cliff" could create even more need for the food bank's services.

Large amounts of donated food have been rolling in, and the ATCAA Food Bank's receiving bay is mostly full, according to Nickerson.

Thousands of cans of vegetables are ready for distribution in holiday food baskets, and the generous donations are allowing for more cans of food per basket than last year.

The bank still has about 2,000 baskets to assemble, a task undertaken by volunteers. Other volunteer tasks include putting produce into canvas bags for freshness and driving donated food to smaller local food pantries or schools.

Prospective volunteers must fill out an application and undergo a short orientation session. The food bank is generally open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays, though volunteers often work different hours.For more information on volunteering at the ATCAA Food Bank, call food bank operations manager Anthony Martinez at 984-3960, ext. 105.

The Resource Connection Food Bank in San Andreas is also seeking food donations and volunteers. Food can be donated at local stores, businesses and the food bank, located at the Resource Connection at 206 George Reed Drive.

The organization is seeking volunteers for help packing "Santa's Express" food bags Dec. 15 and Dec. 17-19 from 9:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers are also needed on Dec. 18-19 for sorting donated toys and clothes.For more information on volunteering at the Resource Connection Food Bank or making donations, call 754-1257.

Union Democrat photographer Maggie Beck contributed to this article.

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