BeltLine Connections Series: A Community of Shared Experiences
The Atlanta BeltLine may be one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs in the United States, but make no mistake: behind the mission, the core values, and the program goals, it’s about the people—the people in the 45 communities that will be connected by the 22-mile loop, the people who live in or pass through Atlanta, and the people working hard to implement this ambition vision.
With this in mind, the staff at Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) came together on November 21st to give back to the community and volunteer at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Founded in 1979, the Atlanta Community Food Bank works with more than 600 nonprofit partners to distribute over 60 million healthy meals to more than 755,000 people in 29 counties across metro Atlanta and north Georgia. According to a study mapping out hunger by Feeding America, more than one in every five kids in Georgia live in a food insecure household, meaning they do not know from where their next meal will come. In metro Atlanta, roughly 13.2% of the population is faced with food insecurity during the year. The Atlanta Community Food Bank helps address this need by procuring and distributing both dry grocery goods and fresh produce to its network of partner agencies with food assistance programs. Additional programs include Benefits Outreach, hunger and poverty Education and Outreach, and Hunger Walk Run fundraisers.
Designed as the first of many corporate social responsibility and teambuilding initiatives, ABI staff were thrilled to invest their time and energy in a project that so profoundly impacts our community. Working alongside other corporate volunteers at the Food Bank’s Product Rescue Center, adjacent to the future Westside BeltLine Connector, ABI staff sorted dry goods and prepared boxes of food for delivery to the Food Bank’s nonprofit partners. In one morning, representing just a few hours of time, the volunteers sorted 11,817 pounds of food and boxed the equivalent of 8,970 meals, thereby saving some 1,052 pounds of trash.
Following their volunteer shift, the ABI team met with the Atlanta Community Food Bank President and CEO, Kyle Waide and learned more about the organization’s work in fighting hunger through engaging, educating and empowering our community.
“Positive output and impact for the greater good requires vision, teamwork and collaboration. And so, teambuilding activities like this are essential to ensuring the success of our mission,” said Chief Operating Officer Ruben Brooks. “By strengthening our bond internally, engaging together with the community, and starting meaningful conversations that lead to effective problem-solving-that’s what it’s going to take to get us to the finish line.”
For the small group charged with bringing transformative public infrastructure that enhances mobility, fosters culture and improves connections to economic opportunity, the experience was fun and refreshing and they look forward to future opportunities to come together for other worthy causes that positively impact our city.