Giving Back as a Family: Second Harvest Heartland

After our two-hour volunteer stint at Second Harvest Heartland, both kids wondered how soon they could come back and pack rice again.

“Tomorrow?” suggested Andy, the almost 10-year-old. He had had a blast filling boxes with 1 lb. bags of rice, checking to make sure the weight was correct, then taping up the boxes and loading them on pallets to be shipped off to smaller local food banks and pantries.

tm second harvest heartland 2His sister, who had turned 8 only days ago, spent her shift scooping the rice into those pound bags from a one-ton sack. “Now I understand why you have to be 8 to do this,” she remarked as we worked side-by-side with other members of our 4-H club and other community groups. She meant that the jobs available to the volunteers — labeling and packing the rice, using a machine to seal the bags, loading them into boxes — were not tasks her younger sisters were ready to take on.

tm second harvest heartland 3

But the shift is perfect for grade school kids (and their adult caregivers) and manages to convey facts about hunger in Minnesota in a manner those kids can understand. For instance, it was news to my children that 1 in 10 people in our state aren’t getting enough to eat each day. Second Harvest Heartland works with donations from farms and companies to provide the equivalent of 74 million meals annually.

4,760 pounds of those 74 million meals were packed by our groups today! Above, Andy and Emily are unveiling the final amount.


Second Harvest Heartland welcomes both groups, families and individuals to come volunteer Tuesday-Saturday at their Golden Valley location. For more information on how to register, click here. Children must be 8 years old to participate and a waiver for each minor must be signed prior to work.


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