The place we went was Second Harvest's Warehouse out in Golden Valley. Second Harvest is a neat idea. They take food that grocery stores are required to dump due to "sell by" dates and, if the food is still good (which it often is), sends it off to various food shelters. They also take the ugly/misshapen crops that famers can't sell to grocery stores and distributes it to various food shelves as fresh produce. They have huge crews of people looking through pounds and pounds of potatoes, etc. Right before us, apparently, they had just processed onions. Our group--which was mostly populated by a corporate group from US Banks--took donated and past 'sell by' food and packaged it into 30 pound "mystery boxes." What was cool about the mystery boxes is that they contained fun items--soda, cookies, crackers, potato chips--with bits of other more traditional food shelf foods, like canned peas or what have you. All stuff that was otherwise going to go to waste would be distributed as a surprise, a bit of joy. I ended up with the box builders, but I was situated across from the people who were packing and I could see how much fun some people were having coming up with neat things to put into each mystery box. One guy was specifically trying to find various things that could make a special meal. Other people were just enjoying putting fun treats in as a surprise among other more necessary items.
Mason ended up among the sorters. His job was to go through all the donated items and double check REAL expiration dates and then sort into giant bins of canned goods vs. 'soft' goods, etc. He said he had a blast. For myself, even though all I did for two and a half-hours was build boxes, I was surprised how fast the time went.
The other thing I ended up being pleased about during this volunteering was the careful way Second Harvest talked about hunger. The videos we watched about it made no effort to claim that hungry people were anyone other than your neighbors. They talked about rural hunger, suburban hunger, and urban hunger. They did not talk about... oh, I don't know, a certain kind of poverty, maybe? Thing is, there have been plenty of times when Shawn and I have considered whether or not we needed to use food banks/food shelves, etc. Having read a lot about food politics (for some reason this is an area I often end up going down the rabbit hole about. I don't seek it out per se, but if I hit an article in the Atlantic or wherever, I will read the whole thing, etc.) I know that food is a complex issues and that lots and lots of working people are hungry in this country.
It was a good experience. I'd do it again.