Five Reasons Why Bringing Your Team to Volunteer at Food & Friends is a Smart Investment

This content is presented by Carrie Stoltzfus, MPH, Executive Director at Food & Friends.
Carrie Stoltzfus, MPH, Executive Director at Food & Friends

As the Executive Director of Food & Friends, one of my most important jobs is making sure that my staff feels engaged, appreciated, and motivated. As an organization delivering medically tailored meals and nutrition services to adults and children with serious illnesses, thousands of our neighbors depend on our team doing great work every day.

All our clients are living with a serious illness like cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, or diabetes, and most are in households with an income of less than $1500 a month.  We are centered on compassion for those we serve, and our work has emotional and physical demands, which can sometimes lead to fatigue. So, we offer our staff programs like stress-reduction workshops and enrichment days that foster a powerful sense of belonging.

With so much competition for talent, creating meaningful opportunities for employee engagement is a must-do for any leader. It is easy to see the difference in staff engagement even small efforts can make.

Therefore, I want to encourage you to make Food & Friends a part of your own employee engagement strategy. The five reasons below share why volunteering with us is a smart investment. Volunteering will lead to better team performance, improved workplace wellness, and will help your team achieve their goals. At the same time, it will make a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors battling serious and chronic illnesses.  

  1. A change of setting and a new in-person challenge will boost morale and teamwork. You may have ended your office lease to save money, or you might not even remember the last time you have seen your colleagues in person. Zoom fatigue is real – so you need to break your team out of the norm. Volunteering at Food & Friends will help your team collaborate more effectively. Football players sometimes do ballet to stretch their agility. Similarly, taking on a new challenge together will help your team be nimble when it matters most.   
  2. Millennials and Gen Z teammates want meaningful opportunities to serve. Your younger teammates want volunteer opportunities that are interesting, enjoyable, and valuable. A well-published study from Porter Novelli shows that 88% of millennials say their jobs are more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues. Engaging in purpose-driven service will keep your top-performing younger teammates engaged and help them expand their insights about our community.  
  3. There are health and wellbeing benefits to volunteering. Gallup research suggests that there are five elements of well-being—career, social, financial, physical, and community—that allow people to thrive in the workplace. We offer physically active volunteer opportunities for people of all abilities. Those who volunteer also have chances to socialize with other caring volunteers, while making a direct positive impact on the lives of seriously ill community members. Doing volunteer work releases healthy endorphins, and your employees will leave feeling better — and smiling about what they accomplished together as a team.
  4. Your employees will learn more about community health in our region. Food & Friends is known for our freshly prepared home-delivered, medically tailored meals and groceries, but not as many people realize that we match every seriously ill person we serve with a registered dietitian who provides personalized nutrition counseling. While volunteering, your team will have opportunities to learn more about how medical food and nutrition interventions are delivered for seriously and chronically ill people in their communities.   
  5. Having a corporate volunteering program is a positive investment in your brand. Customers and stakeholders in 2021 are more attuned to brands that demonstrate societal impact. If your company values align with your customers, they are more likely to buy your product or enlist your service. We celebrate volunteer teams on our website, in our newsletter, on social media, and wherever else possible, including a special Volunteer Appreciation event in April. Volunteering is also a great way to build brand loyalty and reach new audiences who will recognize your service.

Are you ready to sign up? If you are still on the fence, please read this front-page story in the Washington Post about our volunteer impact on Thanksgiving Day. We have opportunities year-round and are especially hoping to attract more groups this winter. Food & Friends was voted by the Washington City Paper Readers Poll as the #1 Best Place to Volunteer in 2021, 2020 and 2019, and we know your team will want to find out why. We hope to see you soon! 

If you are interested in more ways corporate groups can engage, please contact Lisa Huffman, Director of Development, Philanthropic Partnerships at [email protected].

Hear Carrie on WTOP