WNC Youth: Leading the Fight Against Hunger

During June and July, over 100 youth groups will have volunteered at MANNA.

030

Dave Cash and his sons James (6), Harrison (10), and Miles (9) spend a few hours bagging a bulk shipment of rice in MANNA’s clean room.

That translates to more than 1,800 young people donating their time during the summer to help alleviate hunger in Western North Carolina.

For kids, summertime is traditionally associated with a carefree, school-free season, complete with family trips, pool parties, camps, and a variety of other activities to keep kids active and engaged. Those of us involved in the food banking world know all too well that summer is very difficult for children that are living in a household struggling to pay bills, and we work very hard to organize and provide resources for kids facing food insecurity during these out-of-school months.

But there is another type of kid that we see every summer, too: Young people donating their carefree summer days to making our communities better through volunteering.

“I Want to Help People”

055

Niko, an Ashebots member, works in the MANNA volunteer center, breaking down cardboard boxes and sorting through a recent donation of tomatoes.

It’s just another Tuesday afternoon for the Ashebots Robotics Club – sorting through produce, breaking down cardboard boxes, and a number of other volunteer tasks that they regularly take on during their weekly volunteer outing. Volunteering is not a requirement for the young members of this engineering club; they do it because they want to.

“I want to help people” says Niko, a member of the robotics team that focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) educational fields. “I come because I want to,” he says, when asked about his volunteering through Ashebots. “It’s not a requirement.”

Summer Camp: Recreation & Responsibility

016

Fuge Summer Camp participants spend several hours sorting green beans in the MANNA clean room.

Fuge Summer Camp, Asheville Youth Mission, Eliada Home, Blue Ridge Assembly YMCA, Camp Grier, NC Outward Bound, Boy Scouts, CTI, Xplore USA: These are just a few of the youth groups that have or will be spending time volunteering at MANNA this summer.

Volunteering has become almost an expected part of the summer camp experience. Archery, arts and crafts, and even video gaming competitions are still a part of what young people engage in when attending camp, but the other piece that has become a staple part of the summer camp experience is a volunteer effort.

“Throughout the year – and particularly in the summer – MANNA benefits from the passion and energy of youth volunteers,” says Maxwell Gruber, Volunteer Manager for MANNA.” We are humbled by the support of local and regional youth…the future is bright as hundreds, even thousands, of young people make it a priority to lead the charge in the struggle against hunger.”