We celebrate empty voicemail boxes. We know the people we serve by name, address and dietary restrictions. We are problem solvers, interviewers and legacy-makers. We are Hunger Lifeline Coordinators at the Capital Area Food Bank.
Each September, the food bank welcomes a new face to answer calls for the Hunger Lifeline, a referral service for individuals seeking emergency food assistance. Clients call the CAFB during regular business hours and are greeted with warmth and compassion by a full-time, one-year AmeriCorps member who refers the client to an emergency feeding program that can meet their needs.
The Hunger Lifeline has a rich history at the food bank. When I filled the position in 2008, I was eagerly welcomed by all the staff. During my year, I answered a little over 1,000 calls representing thousands more family members.
Over the following three years, the number of calls has doubled and the demand continues to increase. Two out of the last four coordinators have been hired full-time at the food bank – Chelsea Foster is now the Customer Service Clerk and I am the Partner Relations Manager.
As more residents struggle to get enough food to eat and calls continue to increase, the future of the Hunger Lifeline will likely include training more people to help meet the demand. Current Hunger Lifeline Coordinator, Catherine Stahl, already works with three Ambassador Volunteers on a regular basis to help field calls. One thing is certain: The Capital Area Food Bank will continue to meet the growing needs of the community and the Hunger Lifeline will be a continue to be a valuable resource.
And the phrase “No New Messages” will continue to bring joy to those who answer the call.