On Sunday, Sept. 21, members of Aragon’s Humanitarian Club gave back to the community by sorting bags of rice for the needy at the San Francisco Food Bank. Humanitarian Club President and senior Fabio Gallardo says, “They have these huge bins of food that have to be sorted at the San Francisco Food Bank. That’s actually something that they need a lot of help with. It’s a pretty big organization.”
Aragon’s Humanitarian Club volunteers with various organizations across the Bay Area in order to help improve the community. Gallardo says, “We want people to come together. Instead of providing objects and materials, we’re a little more focused on providing time and effort.”
This active approach drives Humanitarian Club members to volunteer through a variety of methods, from picking up trash at beach cleanups to helping senior citizens.
At the Sept. 21 event, volunteers from the club packaged 2,300 bags of rice. Aragon volunteers scooped white rice into one-pound bags, measured them, sealed them off, and packaged them into cardboard boxes. One, one-pound bag of rice can feed one family.
San Francisco Food Bank’s Warehouse Manager Henly Velarde says, “There’s a lot of hungry people. The national hunger average is one in six people. For [San Francisco and Marin County], it’s one in four people. So for the Bay Area, one of the wealthiest [areas] in America, to be hungrier than the nation as a whole shows that there is still a lot of work to be done for hunger. Unfortunately, we have noticed an increase in [hungry people in San Francisco] in recent years. Although the country is recovering economically, those one in four people who are still hungry haven’t recovered yet. That’s where we come in.”
Senior Colin Harrington adds, “I thought that it was pretty good because we [packaged] a higher number when it came to pounds of rice than they normally do. Rice is pretty good because it’s versatile in terms of what people use it for to eat.”
However, certain aspects of the job proved difficult for the volunteers. Junior Meghan Hilbert says, “I think that the most challenging part was probably [weighing] the exact amount of rice in each bag.”
Senior Vijay Joshi adds, “Probably halfway through it my back started hurting because I was moving the bags of rice and bending down [to scoop the rice], but it was absolutely worth it.”
Other Humanitarian Club members shared this sentiment. Hilbert adds, “Honestly, the most rewarding part was knowing that there’s a lot of people that aren’t able to eat every night [who] are now able to eat the white rice [that we packaged] and are just able to have some dinner tonight.”
During the event, club members worked to benefit low-income families in the Bay Area by providing them with rice. Gallardo says, “There’s a lot of families in California where the parents don’t have jobs. Oftentimes, they can’t provide for their children and for each other. So we’re trying to help the food bank achieve the goal of feeding everyone in California.”
“[San Francisco Food Bank is] the number one food bank in the country,” Velarde adds. “Even though we’re hungrier in San Francisco, we literally put more food in the hands of individuals than any other food bank in the country. To put it in perspective, on a daily basis we distribute about 105,000 meals. We feed the programs that feed the city.”
In addition to the event’s support of the needy, club members hope that these volunteer opportunities will have a substantial impact on the Aragon community. “I think we need to teach people who are generally well-off to go out, help out the community and provide for others because there’s a lot of problems in this state,” says Gallardo. “We’re hoping that if we have a more active group of [volunteers] then we’ll be able to solve a lot more in the long term.”