Photo Courtesy of Christopher Molina
Pepperdine is redesigning the mission of their ongoing volunteer program partnership with non-profit food bank, FOOD Share.
Pepperdine’s FOOD Share volunteer coordinator and senior Christopher Molina said he doesn’t exactly know what the redesigned program is going to look like, but knows that the partnership with FOOD Share will be continued regardless of the lack of physical food donations.
FOOD Share, which is based in Oxnard, has been partnering with Pepperdine for more than 10 years, and that partnership is not ending but merely changing. “Food Share is a non-profit food bank dedicated to feeding, nourishing and educating the hungry of Ventura County, educating the community on those who are hungry and why and advocating a reduction of the root causes of hunger,” according to Pepperdine’s Volunteer Center.
Molina said he is deeply saddened by the fact that the center has low amounts of food donations, and that the actual food bank center cannot accommodate volunteers. Molina said that although Pepperdine volunteers will no longer be directly packaging and sorting food, Pepperdine’s partnership with FOOD Share is still alive.
“We are no longer going to be doing food salvaging anymore,” Molina said. “However, we are partnering with them in a new way — we are taking food and doing something similar to Meals on Wheels. Because of the low amount of food donations, we will be doing this with money from federal funding.”
While the actual food-sorting program may be on hold, there are other ways Pepperdine plans on partnering with FOOD Share. One of these ways is with the program “Senior Share Sights.” The program is for low-income senior citizens, who will be receiving food from FOOD Share.
Molina is aware that there are larger issues at play and that there is a direct correlation between food donations and the public’s awareness about the situation.
“Lately, FOOD Share has really struggled,” Molina said. “They are having a decrease in volunteers because of a decrease in food donations. This decreases the opportunity for people to go out and engage and volunteer. It also decreases visibility and mission to people.”
Meg Horton, a volunteer coordinator who has been working with FOOD Share for more than 10 years, said she is beyond thankful Pepperdine students continually volunteer. Horton recognized the fact that Ventura County is obviously a bit of a hike for Malibu students to go, and said she appreciates all of the students’ efforts.
Horton said she is thankful for the dedicated volunteers. “Because of the high amount of volunteers, we were able to sort through the food in a quick manner,” Horton said. “We then found ourselves on low supply and have to put the food sorting program on hold.”
Horton said she looks forward to working with Pepperdine volunteers in Senior Share Sights.
“What we are going to do is have the volunteers fill the bags for low-income seniors at various distribution sites, which are located throughout the county,” Horton said. She also explained that the bags are filled with canned goods, fruits, vegetables and both perishable and nonperishable goods.
On average every Friday, around two or three Pepperdine volunteers participate in the FOOD Share program. Senior Allen Stevens said he looks forward to working with FOOD Share in whatever aspect that might be — either sorting food or delivering it to senior citizens.
“I will be working with FOOD Share as part of a requirement for my cross-cultural psychology class,” Stevens said. “In middle school I used to do a similar volunteer program with my church. I’m excited to interact with these people and hear their stories.”
Sophomore Kyle Morgan said he believes that FOOD Share is an outstanding organization focused on distributing excess and unwanted food in the community to agencies who serve those in need.
Morgan has volunteered with FOOD share in several areas and tasks, such as gathering extra produce from farmers’ markets and sorting packaged products. “Since helping to provide for people’s basic needs is important to me, I really enjoy joining FOOD Share to help make a difference,” Morgan said. According to Morgan, the atmosphere for volunteers is always relaxed, fun and flexible.
Regardless of how FOOD Share and Pepperdine may be transforming their partnership, Morgan said he still “looks forward to picking more fruit and sorting produce” as a volunteer.
Senior Andrew Yoon said he understands that FOOD Share has a greater purpose in serving the community, which he said is both humbling and rewarding for him. “I look forward to partnering with FOOD Share once again this year so we can continue serving FOOD Share, knowing that FOOD Share will continue their faithful labor to the people that need it most,” Yoon said.
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