“The food bank’s partner agencies and their programs are on the forefront of service delivery. They are organized and staffed in ways that allow them to carry out their mission while remaining focused and operating within what is typically a limited budget. They obtain the food they distribute from the foodbank and various other sources, and they distribute these meals and groceries to a diverse client base.
“Although agencies and their programs employ creative strategies to manage their clients’ needs, some programs perceive an increasing need for services in their service areas and some report struggling to accommodate client demand.
“Agency and program administration is complex and often requires using both paid employees and volunteers. Agencies reported staffing in full-time-equivalents (assuming a 40-hour work week), in which multiple part-time individuals could be recorded as equivalent to a full-time employee to allow for comparability across agencies despite different staffing models. An estimated 64 percent of agencies reported employing paid staff. The median number of paid full-time-equivalent staff was 5.
“On the program level, food programs often rely on a volunteer workforce to ensure that they can serve their clients. The median number of volunteers assisting at programs in a typical week was 7. The volunteers provided a median of 31 volunteer hours each week.
“Volunteers are drawn from a diverse pool, both demographically and from different sources. For the programs associated with Vermont Foodbank, 7 percent of volunteers are age 18 or younger, 52 percent are between 19 and 59 years old, and 41 percent are age 60 or older (see figure 5).
“The top three sources of program volunteers (with more than 51 percent of volunteers for programs) are ‘Connected to Agency,’ ‘Religious groups,’ and ‘Some Other Source.’
“Staff and volunteers play a critical role in administering local programs, and this requires training. For the programs associated with Vermont Foodbank, the three most common training needs of staff and volunteers are ‘Food safety and sanitation,’ ‘Nutrition education,’ and ‘Fundraising/grant writing.’
“Food transport may be a critical need at the program level. Some programs own or rent/lease vehicles to pick up food, often at the food bank, while others depend on the vehicles of staff or volunteers, and still others either share vehicles between programs or have food delivered to their program.
“The Agency Survey inquired about programs’ access to vehicles for picking up food and grocery items, including whether they have access to more than one method of picking up food. For the programs associated with partner agencies of Vermont Foodbank:
- 69 percent of programs have food and groceries delivered to them
- 65 percent have staff or volunteers use their own transport for pickups
- 12 percent work with other programs to share the responsibility for pickups
- 20 percent own truck(s), van(s), or car(s) for pickups
- 4 percent rent/lease truck(s), van(s), or car(s) for pickups
“These different challenges may ultimately impact the ability of food programs to serve clients.”
This was an excerpt from the Hunger in America study, the largest study of charitable food assistance in America. To read the full report, as well as Vermont-specific findings, visit our website.