In addition to the Salvation Army and the KISS army, one of my favorite armies is the Second Harvest Hunger Study Army of volunteers. To complete the Hunger in Central Florida 2010 study, we utilized the services of nearly 100 dedicated volunteers who were willing to do one of the toughest assignments we have at the food bank: ask people questions.
Beginning in the Winter of 2009, we put out the call to volunteers who could commit to a two hour training, in addition to driving to one of our partner sites and interviewing a random sample of clients for about 30 minutes each.
Our volunteers came from all walks of life. Retirees, professionals, foundation heads, staff, our board of directors, and others all attended the training and were able to ask the 80 survey questions identically to preserve the integrity of the study. We were surprised at how many of our volunteers had participated in the 2006 survey. In speaking with them, they found the process very rewarding.
Hunger in Central Florida took over 500 volunteer hours to complete. Each interview averaged out to half an hour and like I wrote earlier, the most difficult part of the job wasn’t the noise of the location or working in the rain, it was asking difficult questions.
Many of the questions are simple ”how many people are in your family?, what is your age?, do you currently receive food stamps?” Questions like “Have you had to choose between food and medicine in the past month” and “Have your children had to go to bed without eating this week” can really challenge both the volunteer and interviewee. Every time we complete the study, volunteers speak with us about how emotionally draining the survey can be.
That’s why our Hunger Study Army is such a unique group of volunteers. They are not be fighting hunger by working with the food in our warehouse, they are fighting hunger by helping us tell the story of hunger in Central Florida to the community.
Director of Agency Relations & Programs