A little over a year ago the Atlanta Community Food Bank approached Hands On Atlanta, asking if we could help increase capacity at some of their affiliate food pantries by recruiting volunteers on their behalf. Specifically, the Food Bank wanted to provide more food to more people and hypothesized that if we were able to send more volunteers to their affiliates then their objective of feeding more people would be achieved.
We were eager to dive in and help, but with a lean team ourselves, we wondered how we could make this happen. Wouldn’t you know it, around the same time, Points of Light presented us with an incredible opportunity from Starbucks. We would apply to host a couple of their partners (Starbucks employees) who would help address one of the company’s social pillars: food insecurity. So, problem-solved! We jumped at the opportunity and applied for and got two outstanding Starbucks Service Fellows, Julie and Maya, to help us implement our partnership with the Food Bank.
Over the course of the Starbucks Service Fellows’ six-month term with us, Julie and Maya, managed 10 food pantries that were selected by the Food Bank. Specifically, the Starbucks Service Fellows providing one-on-one support to the food pantries including training on volunteer management best practices and our volunteer management software; helping them write volunteer role descriptions, and volunteering at their facilities. This was no easy task. The food pantries were very lean, grassroots organizations and many were being run by volunteers. For example, none of them had a formal system for tracking their volunteers; volunteers signed up using pen and paper. So Julie and Maya spent a significant amount of time teaching them how to use our volunteer software increasing the efficiencies and workflow at the food pantries.
Change can be hard which meant that the food pantries needed encouragement and support. One of the most value skills the Starbucks Service Fellows brought to their role was their impeccable customer service. Julie and Maya were patient and always treated the food pantries with respect. As a result, they gained the food pantries trust. Not only did the Starbucks Service Fellows get the pantries to use our volunteer management software, but in just three months of posting their opportunities the food pantries recruited 143 volunteers who served a total 544 hours! Margie Boone, CEO of the food pantry, Margie’s House, stated, "We've been able to double the number of volunteers thanks to Hands On Atlanta."
With the support from Starbucks in their partners’ growth and civic engagement, as well as building capacity for nonprofits like ours, we were able to build upon the strong foundation with the Food Bank, one of our long time partners. We also were able to expand our service foot print into high-needs areas like Gwinnet and Clayton Counties, deepening the impact we’re able to have in the metro region.
Thank you to Starbucks and their incredible partners, Julie and Maya. Their fellowship ended in mid-February, however, they will always be a part of the Hands On Atlanta family. In fact, Julie has stayed on board volunteering with us two days a week to continue providing support to the food pantries - through June when the food pantries are eligible to renew their partnership with us. We’re definitely looking forward to the next phase of the Starbucks Service Fellowship program, hoping to grow from a grande to a venti!
Want to volunteer at one the food pantries?