SAY teens team up at the Food Bank this summer
Last week, Dario Aguilar, our Esperanza Program Case Manager and I checked in with Eric and Andres, two youth who have been working at the Redwood Empire Food Bank this summer through our Esperanza Works program. When we arrived, the boys were busy sorting strawberries, making sure that the berries that will go out to families are fresh and delicious, and ready for distribution. Over the past two month, Eric, 14 and Andres, 17 have trained in dozens of roles at the food bank, working alongside volunteers and Food Bank staff to help in in the warehouse, the Kitchen Collective, the Value Market, and the Food Connections office.
This summer has been busy for Eric, between his job with SAY and basketball practices to get ready for the school year, he’s barely had any time at home, but Eric said he’s excited to come to work each day. This is Eric’s first job, and he loves knowing that the work he’s doing is helping people. He’s been enjoying the work at the Value Market and working in the Food Connections office where he assists staff with intake, as well as outreach, helping connect individuals and families in need of food assistance with the programs the Food Bank offers.
This is Andres’ second job, and he brought the customer service experience he learned at CVS with him to the Food Bank, and says that working at the Value Market has been a good transition. His favorite jobs are in the warehouse though, and Andres likes getting to work alongside the volunteers who come in daily to help sort donations. Helen Myers, Volunteer Services Fellow for the Food Bank explains, “As Andres and Eric have become more familiar and comfortable with the warehouse tasks, they have been able to take on more of a leadership role as they assistant to train other volunteers for these projects.”
Both Andres and Eric have also picked up some new cooking skills, helping the Kitchen Collective chef create healthy meals in their commercial kitchen. It’s been great experience, and Helen added that “the Kitchen Collective is a new program at the REFB. [They create] frozen meals to supplement the grocery items we distribute to our food recipients. Eric and Andres have each been working two shifts a week to assistant the chef with meal preparation and packaging of these frozen meals.”
When asked what’s next after their summer job term ends? Both Eric and Andres are hooked – they’re planning to return to the Food Bank as volunteers when school starts up again this fall.