Service Learning: Dutchess Outreach Lunch Box Program
For the student service-learning project I completed the Dutchess outreach lunch box program. I have volunteered once before but since I’ve never volunteered in a kitchen so I was very nervous. I have no idea what the expectations would be and didn’t know what they would have me doing. I thought we were actually going to prepared the food but when I got there it was already cooked. While being there I just served salad and pasta salad. I expected many workers who were already experienced to be there taking more control of what occurs. But it was more of they told us what to do and watched. When dealing with the people I interacted with them they were very quiet but friendly. Though I know the lunch box service to open to all individuals in Poughkeepsie, I saw individuals who are needier and homeless-looking in the program.
I knew it wasn’t going to have fun but it wasn’t even about that aspect. It was about making others’ lives easier. Once the individuals started to line up for food fears went away. It made me feel good about myself knowing I’m doing a good deed for others. It made me want to volunteer more often if I had the transportation to do so. I would recommend everyone to volunteer because it’s such an eye-opening experience. I liked the fact that they knew they were welcomed and they were treated nicely. They also could get seconds which I thought was also very kind. It made me think about all of the unfortunate people who don’t even have the means to have a meal. They were provided with options to choose from and could even get dessert.
Throughout the semester we as a class have talked about many situations that relate to my service and observations at the lunch box program. Poverty in many societies can be impacted by various things like education and employment. These can then be impacted by gender and race. It’s a discrimination cycle that is present and noticeable causing many disparities. Living in poverty can prevent you from getting the best education you need stunting you from good employment if any. This then just keeps you from being able to succeed with no other options.
The purpose of this program was to provide all individuals with access to meals throughout the day free of charge. There was even food that they could take home like bread, vegetables, and or fruit. It’s a place where you can go to get a hot healthy meal while feeling welcomed and treated equally no matter what your circumstances are. I believe they live up to the goal of providing food. Just by seeing how many people came and knew the routine showed they really utilize this program. The manager on duty knew their names and had conversations with them letting me know this is a space where relationships are built. You could tell the workers and volunteers actually enjoyed their time spent and wanted to help make a difference.
One recommendation I have that could improve the program in order to meet the needs of the community would probably be to raise awareness. Without this class, I would have never got involved or even heard of this program. I think it would help out a lot if many others knew how to sign up and volunteer or donate goods. One thing I found out being there is that if they didn’t have enough volunteers it would just slow them down and make the task harder. With more help, it’s less stressful and just better overall on everyone’s behalf. Donating would also go a long way because say the kitchen runs out of food they could just take some canned goods to eat. A few signs and advertisements could go a long way to improve the program but overall it’s operating the best way it can with the resources it has.