Thursday, October 29, 2009

Special Feature: the PRC

732 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd, Atlanta, GA

Today I wanted to take the opportunity to shine a small spotlight on a very special place that is dear to my heart: the Product Rescue Center (PRC) of the Atlanta Community Food Bank. I have been volunteering at the PRC for almost seven years, and I truly feel that every hour there has been time well spent.

This is how it works: The Food Bank sends trucks to pick up donated food from food drives and local grocery stores, then delivers the items to the PRC, where volunteers sort, inspect and pack like items. The goods are then sent to over 800 partner agencies (such as children's, women's and homeless shelters, and senior centers) in 38 counties in metro Atlanta and North Georgia.

The PRC is a great place for many reasons, one being that it is extremely well organized. When you volunteer there you'll be shown a cute video produced by the Cartoon Network that gives you all the info on the work at the PRC and what becomes of the donations. Once you enter the warehouse you'll be well supervised and directed by several friendly staff members. At the end of the shift one of them will tell you the number of pounds of food you packed and its equivalent number of meals, so you can instantly feel great about the work you performed.

There are two ways in which you can help the PRC: you can volunteer, or you can make food or monetary donations. Either will be much appreciated.

The PRC takes volunteers ages 8 and up, and they have shifts on multiple days and times. You can find me at the Wednesday night shift from 6 to 8:30pm, sorting and inspecting donated food.

If you'd like to donate, you may do so on the website with a credit/debit card (see the yellow "donate online" icon), or you may send a check to the address listed above. The Food Bank is able to convert every dollar to $5.66 worth of food (or six meals) for the needy, so even a small monetary donation can go a long way towards helping the underprivileged in your community.

If you'd like to donate food, please see this link for instructions: The PRC "most wanted" items include canned meats, peanut butter and canned fruits and vegetables.

Being a longtime volunteer at the PRC, I have seen many strange items come through the sort area. I know that everyone has good intentions when they are donating food for the hungry, but please try to be practical and keep in mind that the PRC cannot accept homemade baked/canned items, perishable goods or items that have expired over a year ago. You may be laughing at this, but I can tell you that my fellow volunteers have pulled gallons of milk, Ziploc bags full of home-baked biscuits and loaves of bread from the familiar blue bins. Two years ago we also received a tin of coffee that expired in 1975. I kid you not.

Verdict: The PRC is a fantastic place to volunteer and a wonderful service to our community. The Food Bank has many other projects that I will highlight in future posts.

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