“One of my friends posted on Facebook that she was trying to cook on a SNAP allotment. She was sharing recipes, and I started just doing a little research on the Capital Area Food Bank and what its website offered in terms of healthy eating tips and I was impressed“
“I thought to myself, ‘I would love to volunteer for the Capital Area Food Bank’,” says Sharon McCarthy, who is a marketing and communications specialist.
Sharon says her passion lies in making sure people who can’t afford to eat get good meals.
“So I emailed the food bank. I thought I would get a response in a few weeks or so. No! I got a phone call almost immediately. I couldn’t believe it!”
Sharon toured the Capital Area Food Bank in northeast DC and was “blown away” by the huge facility itself, the staff, garden, fresh veggies, menu planning… “it’s very impressive. I was surprised by how big the warehouse is, and that it offers refrigerated food storage.”
Intrigued by the concept of becoming a Neighborhood Captain, she jumped on board with her new found confidence in the CAFB.
“I was pleasantly surprised by how the Neighborhood Captains were treated in such a professional way. It is very unusual to be invited to a recipe tasting, and that was a very positive experience.” (Pictured here: Ella Daniels (left), Sharon McCarthy (center) and Tina Tyree (right) at a recipe testing at CAFB.)
She says she enjoyed being part of the monthly recipe testing, where professional chefs use the CAFB teaching kitchen to try out healthy, low-cost recipes, to see whether they should be part of our Healthy Recipe Database.
As a Neighborhood Captain for the Dupont Circle region, one of Sharon’s first tasks was to help spread the word about Empty Bowls, the food bank’s annual fall event where supporters are treated to a delicious lunch and a one-of-a-kind ceramic bowl.
She took it upon herself to post Empty Bowls postcards on community bulletin boards around her community. “It’s a great way to get out in the community while raising awareness.”
“For two back-to-back Sundays, I have been walking through the DC Farmers’ Market, introducing myself to people and telling the about the wonderful work being done by the Capital Area Food Bank,” she says, noting that people definitely make a positive association with the organization.
Paula Porter knows all about the food bank, and has discovered being a Neighborhood Captain is a natural way to share her passion for the cause. As a skilled volunteer since October 2012, Paula was interested in the idea of Neighborhood Captains.
“I immediately thought: ‘this is a new way to help.’”
Paula has been living in Bowie, MD, for 19 years. Her neighbors have a block party every year, and her idea was to give people the chance to offer donations.
The food bank provided her with food bins, flyers, the Most Wanted Items list of popular foods, and they practically filled the two huge bins, and collected $100 in cash.
“It’s a no-brainer kind of thing. It took me a day and a half to put it together – with such great results!”
Paula’s next steps are to make sure that Capital Area Food Bank posters are up at the recreation center in her neighborhood.
She is also compiling a list of organizations in her neighborhood. Her goal: find out which ones have constituents who need the services of the food bank, and which can be educated about the CAFB mission – she will solicit their support, time and donations.
“We need to make sure people know that the CAFB can always use their help,” she says, noting that it is her job as Neighborhood Captain to spread that simple message.
Paula says people might not realize that becoming a Neighborhood Captain involves a little planning, but not a lot of time.