People with disabilities are often on the receiving end of help, but at the Food Bank, many groups of disabled volunteers love lending a hand to help others. One group we are excited to welcome every week comes from Ala Costa Centers, a nonprofit with programs supporting youth through adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

According to Ala Costa staff member, Katia Antonova, their volunteers have been told directly or indirectly that they could only do so much throughout their lives, reinforcing their limitations. But not at ACCFB. “Going to places like the Food Bank reminds them that they can be part of something bigger,” she said. “They can be productive in the community and make a difference. This builds their confidence and self-esteem.”
Ala Costa has been a Food Bank partner for two years. Joining us every Wednesday, Ala Costa volunteers have helped prepare more than 6,000 meals worth of food for the community. By helping out in our warehouse, the volunteers learn skills that are part of Ala Costa’s vocational training program.

Diego Amado, an Ala Costa volunteer, is learning skills that can help him get a job. He is especially good at helping clean up the Community Engagement Center after shifts—which is an important part of our food safety standards—and remembering Food Bank staff and other volunteers. “It’s good to do something for the community,” he said. “I’ve made friends here and know everyone by name.”

The Food Bank is a popular site, and Ala Costa students often try to switch into the group because of the fun energy and the ability to make an impact in the community. “The fact that it’s food is one of the reasons this site is so popular,” said Katia. “Food is something that everyone can relate to. You can see it. You can feel it. It has vibrant colors. It is work that is still fun and challenging enough, but also familiar and easy enough for most people’s comfort levels.”

The Food Bank’s warehouse is always a safe and welcoming space for anyone in the community to get involved. We believe that everyone has potential to live meaningful lives. Food security provides the foundation for people to thrive. And volunteering to get food into the community contributes to people’s self-determination.

So come on down to sort fruits and vegetables, meet new people from a variety of backgrounds like the Ala Costa volunteers, and be a part of the community working to end hunger.