Interns Volunteer to Do Good at Vermont Foodbank

When a company has a cause, the enthusiasm can be infectious. That’s the case here at National Life Group, which has a broad cause that matches our corporate values: Do good. Be good. Make good.

As an example, National Life hires a few dozen interns every summer. One of the primary goals is to give them a peek into what it’s like to work in the corporate world. For us, a big part of what we do is to give back to the community.

That’s how our interns this summer found themselves at the Vermont Foodbank.

The interns organized and sorted 22,981 pounds of food at the Foodbank in three-hour shifts over the past month.

That means 34,683 meals will go out to hungry families and individuals across the state.

“It was really awesome. This time of year is really busy,” says Hannah Snyder, the volunteer coordinator for the Foodbank.

One in four people, or a total of around 153,000 people, suffer from hunger each year in Vermont, according to the Foodbank.

Last year the Foodbank distributed 10 million pounds of food, or the equivalent of 15 million meals. This year it hopes to increase that number to 11 million.

Snyder says the additional 40 volunteers really helped this season when the food bank is at its busiest.

“Most of the time [volunteers] help with salvage,” says Snyder. “We get food from stores like Hannafords and they help us categorize and organize [the food].”

When supermarkets, food vendors and producers have unsold or unwanted food that hasn’t expired, they can donate the food to the shelter where volunteers sort through it and package it to be sent where it’s needed.

In a process called gleaning, volunteers also go to farms and pick leftover produce that farmers haven’t sold and want to donate.

“Whether it comes from a gleaning program or donation it has to be sorted into smaller boxes,” says Snyder.

National Life’s interns worked in four separate groups, each competing to package and sort more than the other.

Alicia Lamore says it was a lot of fun to work with her fellow National Life interns for a good cause.

“It just feels right to help out,” says Lamore. “What I like about the food bank is that the same employees and volunteers stay there. I’ve volunteered at many places and when you work with people who have that energy it’s more fun.”

Lamore worked with other interns in an assembly line to package different produce and make sure it was ready to go where it is most needed.

“It was nice to not be in such a formal environment,” says Lamore. “It felt good to do good.”

Volunteers can also help with sending the food across the state.

“There’s a lot of people who can’t access food sites so we do a lot of direct distribution,” says Snyder. “Volunteers can help drivers with distribution.”

Through the Food to Seniors program, food is delivered to more than 2,000 seniors each month and the food bank is looking to help even more.

“One in four Vermonters is experiencing hunger and I think if more people realized that and helped, the more we can fight hunger,” says Snyder.

The volunteering event was coordinated through National Life Group’s Young Professionals Network, which works to help interns begin networking.

This is the first year National Life has asked interns to volunteer at the food bank, says Megan Sophia of our human resources team.

“We really appreciate the partnership with YPN and the ability to have these kinds of opportunities,” says Sophia.

The initiative also meshes perfectly with National Life’s cause.

“One of the best features of our summer internship program is that interns here are completely immersed in the work and culture of National Life,” said Beth Rusnock, AVP, Corporate Marketing and Community Relations. “Our employees live our corporate values every day to Do good. Be good. Make good. through volunteering and many other initiatives. So involving the interns in a volunteer initiative is an important part of their experience here.”