Nearly 175 employees volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee for University-wide service day
Furthering Belmont’s charge to be “Nashville’s University,” faculty and staff members spent half their day on Friday, April 7 volunteering together at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Split into three groups upon their arrival, participants sorted donated dry food, packed boxes of food for neighboring seniors and even bundled up to weigh and pack frozen food in the organization’s industrial-sized freezer.
The annual service project, which the University dubbed “It’s Bruin Time in the Community,” began three years ago with teams of employees serving a local Metro Nashville Public School. The last two years have been celebrated at Second Harvest. With Vision 2020 ideals in mind, Belmont employees registered to serve during one of two three-hour shifts, aligning the Belmont community with the “ever-changing needs of the people in our community.”
One team was tasked with sorting pallets of food into specific boxes–pasta, beans, snacks, fruits, dry beverages and water, among others. Once sorted, packaged and weighed, boxes were marked and prepared for shipment to one of Second Harvest’s many community partners.
The next group, and the quickest to volunteer when given the opportunity, packed boxes of food for senior citizens. Forming an assembly line of sorts, these volunteers sent boxes down the line, each person responsible for adding a certain piece of food. Upon completion, the boxes were added to pallets and prepared for shipment.
The final group, many of whom decided to participate in this year’s activities purely for the opportunity to serve in the freezer, came prepared in their winter warmest. Assigned to the freezer, these employees were tasked with sorting frozen food, packing similar items, weighing boxes and preparing pallets for shipment. As in years past, Belmont’s Residence Life Department flocked to the freezer together for the morning shift, eager to volunteer with coworkers.
Residence Director Hilary Roberts boarded the bus on Friday morning with her bundles on. Working alongside her team, Roberts came prepared with gloves, a hat, a scarf and even two pairs of socks. Calling it a privilege, Roberts was excited to jump into the freezer. “We get to help a lot of people in a big way,” she said. “And it’s such a communal effort. The freezer is so fast paced because it’s so cold–you have to keep running! Before you know it you’ve sorted 9,000 pounds of food. It’s so incredible.”
Roberts credits Residence Life’s interest in serving in the freezer to their team-oriented spirit. “We work in teams so much, and we’ve really gotten good at working together to accomplish a common goal,” Roberts said. “We are all about helping one another, and serving in the freezer has become a big bonding experience for our team. Even though we’re cold, we enjoy the time we have to serve together.”
Planned and executed by Belmont’s University Staff Advisory Council (USAC), the annual event has become a staple on Belmont’s campus during the spring semester and employees. USAC Event Chair Kelli Davis said, “Belmont employees look forward to It’s Bruin Time in the Community all year long. We’re so blessed to have the opportunity to leave our offices, step into the community and contribute to the great work Second Harvest does each day. To be able to serve the people who live among us in such a powerful way is truly an honor. To next year!”
In total, Belmont’s “It’s Bruin Time in the Community” morning and afternoon groups boxed more than 15,000 lbs of dry groceries, 700 senior nutrition boxes and 15,000 lbs of frozen food for delivery. For more photos from the event, click here.