Green Beans and Research


A little while ago, my department at work had a belated-holiday-party/team-bonding outing to the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) to volunteer together. GCFD distributes food to shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens to Chicago and the surrounding areas. Some of that food is donated by manufacturers, stores and individuals. And some of that food is purchased in bulk by GCFD. When they buy bulk, they have to take a 30 pound bag of pinto beans and re-bag them into 1 or 2 pound bags…or they’ll get canned veggies without the labels and so they have to label everything.

While we were at GCFD, a high school class got to re-bag pinto beans (and wear white lab coats and hair nets), while we labeled french-cut green beans. 10,000 cans to be exact.

It was nice a break from the desk. Most people were given a station and stuck to it. I floated a bit, trying my hand at boxing, labeling and transferring from palette to labeling table (by far the least back-friendly of the jobs).

You know how much I love behind-the-scenes! Well, this was just as interesting. This was a peek into a world I know nothing about. Walking into their warehouse was like walking into a Costco on steroids. The sheer magnitude was awe inspiring…and the first thing everyone mentioned.

I don’t have any stories on the horizon that deal with warehouses or assembly lines, but now I have a small taste of what that’s like…just in case.

Have you ever volunteered as a way to explore your story?


6 thoughts on “Green Beans and Research

  1. bethfinke

    You know, I had it on my calendar to join everyone volunteering at the Food Depository, but when the list came out of how everyone was getting there, my name didn’t show up –I took it as a sign (translation: excuse) not to go, it was an early morning, I had a lot going on that week anayway, etc., etc. Sounds like with all that goes on at the Food Depository they would have been able to find *something* for me to be able to do to help, and having read your blog post now I will participate for sure if the department decides to do this again. Thanks for writing this —

  2. Interesting! 🙂
    I never have volunteered for the sake of research, but I have actually considered it. I’ve done other things in the name is research, though, like going to certain bars and talking to certain kinds of people there.

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