Team Building at the Food Bank

Did you know?

  • In Waterloo Region, 1 in 20 households require the support of the Food Bank in order to eat
  • Our Food Bank served more than 6 MILLION meals in 2014.
  • Just $1 can buy 3 meals through the Food Bank!
  • The Food Bank is not government funded. It relies on the generosity of individuals and companies in our community, though the donation of food (both fresh and non-perishable) and money.
  • The majority of their “back operations” are staffed by volunteers.

And after our experience at the Waterloo Region Food Bank last week, we can tell you that those volunteers are caring, energetic, and passionate about making sure the food in our community gets to those who need it. What a huge, well-organized operation.

The eleven-x team was at the Food Bank to participate in The Great Food Sort Challenge, an event that pits local companies against each other in a race to sort the greatest mass of food in a limited amount of time.

“When asked what kind of team-building event they wanted, our team indicated that they wanted to do something that gives back to the community,” explained Ryan Hickey, CEO. And the Food Sort Challenge turned out to be a success on many levels: the afternoon began with an informative tour of the facility (led by the enthusiastic Carol, thank you!), we managed to sort over 1900 lbs. of food in just 30 minutes, AND we won the challenge! What a fascinating experience, to be thrust into such a productive frenzy with your colleagues. Our opponents, Accelerator Centre grads Cross Chasm, sorted over 1,800 lbs. of food. Breathless and damp, we all felt very accomplished and came away with an appreciation for the hard work that goes on at our Food Bank.

There were very extensive guidelines for sorting, for example, Chunky soup is sorted as a stew, and ready-meals that include rice are sorted as rice, not ready-made meals. Beans? Well there are 4 or 5 different categories, so you must read each label carefully. Don’t forget expiry dates (though Dinesh reported that he came away learning the lesson that “Salad dressing can be consumed up to 6 months after the expiry date”) and use your best judgment for “Healthy Snacks” versus “Treat Snacks” (staff tip: if you’d want to eat the snack, it goes in the “Treats”). Which leads me to my own favourite moment of the afternoon, when someone sorted an enormous tub of Bacon-Flavoured Popcorn, and Fraser said, “You can just put that one in my car.”

Aside from knowing what to get Fraser for Christmas, we hope that by sharing our experience, you might consider this for your own team-building event, and/or support your local Food Bank whenever possible. “It was a pleasure to meet an amazing team of volunteers,” says Margarita. We’d like to thank them for guiding us through the sorting challenge. And an additional thanks to our fellow clients at Accelerator Centre, who donated money through our cookie drive last week. For teams looking to take the Great Food Sorting Challenge next time, I will leave you with these post-race tips from Jonathan, who brainstormed with Margarita on their way back to the office:

“Food sorters should specialize in a small number of items, so they know exactly what goes where, and to prioritize the heavy stuff like cans.”

We look forward to putting this advice into action next time.

CrossChasm vs eleven-x02