Food Bank Expands, Calls for Help 

click to enlarge street13_foodbank_100.jpg

With plans to feed a lot of new mouths beginning next month, the Central Virginia Food Bank and Meals on Wheels are searching for new volunteers.

The local charitable organizations recently partnered to open the Community Kitchen, a massive, state-of-the-art industrial kitchen facility at the Food Bank's warehouse, with the objective of providing more and better-prepared meals to families in need. In October, the kitchen began cranking out 2,200 meals for its Kids Café program.

But by adding the Meals on Wheels client base of more than 700 homebound clients, the kitchen will serve more than 3,200 people every day as of March 31. That new capacity means the organizations need an additional 200 volunteers a month.

"We ask for a commitment of two slots a month, and the reason for that is it's a real production kitchen and we need some consistency," says Sally Pluot, the kitchen's director of food services. "You're on your feet for four hours. You've got to be able to lift 20 pounds. And you've got to be pretty physically fit."

While physically demanding and requiring a bit of skill, Pluot says, it's not exactly rocket science. Volunteers won't make any main dishes; instead, they'll be doing prep work such as feeding the kitchen's automatic potato peeler or packaging sandwiches and other foods.

The goal is a few thousand meals a day, she says, but with the new kitchen, "we have the capacity to do about 10,000 meals a day. We're going to try to feed more and more hungry people."

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