Our Atlanta office associates along with a few family members volunteered their time at the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB). The RS&H group, along with 25 other people, sorted over 13,000 pounds of food which provided 8,700 meals in the Atlanta area.
A member of Feeding America, the ACFB receives and distributes over 60 million pounds of food and grocery products to Atlanta residents each year. The AFCB receives pre-packed and fresh food from a variety of donors including restaurants, manufacturers, wholesalers, and local gardens. These products are then provided to food pantries, community kitchens, childcare centers, and shelters across metro Atlanta and north Georgia which directly serve individuals and families. The ACFB distributes food to approximately 80,000 Atlanta residents each week.
The Atlanta Community Food Bank is housed in a massive 129,000 square foot warehouse in downtown Atlanta with large tables for sorting and plenty of storage space. Jobs that the volunteers were responsible for included checking product expiration dates, sorting food, packing food into boxes, and breaking down boxes for recycling.
“It was a great experience – very well organized with each person having a job, so everyone was able to do more in less time” said Atlanta Office Leader Dom Saulino. “A favorite job was re-packing the food into boxes and sending the boxes down the conveyor belt.”
“The time went really quickly! I liked the music and fast pace of sorting the food items,” said Transportation Associate Laura Piff.
The planners in the group were particularly interested in a discussion about food deserts or areas where it's difficult to obtain fresh/healthy food due to availability, distance, or affordability. The ACFB is working to reduce the food deserts in Atlanta by partnering with local gardens to provide fresh fruit and vegetables in neighborhoods where these items are scarce. Locating grocery stores, small markets, and gardens in neighborhoods or within close proximity to public transit is key to providing residents with healthy and accessible food options.
Steve Cote, Senior Planning Leader, and Lauren Leary, Transportation Planner, noted that the founder of the AFCB had spoken with their Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning Graduate School class about his vision for a food bank to address the issue of hunger in Atlanta in 1998. The AFCB was created out of this bold vision and is leading the effort to provide food to Atlanta residents in need.
Our Atlanta team looks forward to volunteering again soon!