The first time Catherine and Jay and their two teenage sons volunteered at The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), they helped sort and pack donated food at its 117,000 square foot Yawkey Distribution Center. “Walking into the warehouse was overwhelming at first,” Catherine recalled. “We’d been supporting GBFB for a while, but we didn’t realize the enormity of the problem until we saw the size of the operation trying to fix it!”

A pre-school teacher and an accountant, Catherine and Jay were looking for a way to experience giving back as a family when they learned about GBFB’s opportunities for volunteers. “From the moment we arrived, there was an instant sense of community,” continued Catherine. “We had a lot of fun, and our volunteer ‘shift’ flew by. Afterwards, we all felt wonderful because we knew we’d genuinely helped toward such a good cause.”

The family deepened their engagement by volunteering to distribute food at one of GBFB’s Mobile Pantries, a truckload of nutrient-rich food and produce brought regularly to neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food options (aka “food deserts”).

As Catherine explained, “We wanted a more hands-on experience, and at the Germantown pantry in Quincy we worked with actual families in need, and got to know them a bit. My sons have heard a lot about poverty and hunger, but volunteering at the pantry brought them face-to-face with the reality of these challenges. They saw children in line waiting with their parents to receive food, and realized those families aren’t so different from ours. That’s an important lesson they’ll never forget.”

Volunteers play a critical role in helping to end hunger in eastern Massachusetts by giving their time and talent to support GBFB. Last year, more than 14,000 volunteers worked a total of 50,000 hours, a contribution worth more than $600,000.

Learn how you can help at GBFB.org/volunteer.