When Alyssa Copp asks fellow Cisco team members if they want to sign up for a Daily Bread volunteer opportunity, she never worries about filling slots. Cisco has signed up for six shifts this year, “and we use them as a reason to bring teams together offline and in-person,” she said. “We have wait-lists every time.”
Cisco has partnered with Daily Bread Food Bank as part of our Employee Volunteer Program (EVP), which returned last September after a two-year pandemic hiatus. In these first six months back, nearly 1,300 employees have volunteered through EVP. They’ve bagged carrots, repacked oatmeal and sorted canned goods — a whopping 376,834 pounds of food. Each pound of food provides approximately one meal, so this program has helped us get over 375,000 meals out to those experiencing hunger in Toronto.
Every EVP shift begins with a guided tour of the facilities. Volunteers walk through our commercial kitchen and 50,000-square-foot warehouse while learning of-the-moment information about current need. At the end of their shift, they always hear how many families they’ve helped or how many pounds of food they’ve packed, so they go home knowing how much of an impact their team has made on food insecurity. Some groups also volunteer with us on Thursday evenings to serve our weekly, free Community Meal to local residents in need.
Not only does the EVP perform critical work — like getting pasta or onions to those who need them — it also gives remote coworkers a chance to hang out in person. “It’s fun to see [volunteers] meet off-screen for the first time and the team bonding that happens throughout a shift,” said Kris Walkden, who leads the program at Daily Bread. “We love the energy that EVP groups bring to the warehouse.”
Some groups, like Cisco, have enjoyed the program so much that they’ve made volunteering an annual custom. “It is one of our cherished traditions,” said Alyssa, who added that Cisco teams have been working with us for at least a decade. “I think our teams just really love being able to roll up their sleeves, get their hands a bit dirty, and do something as a group.”
For more information on the Employee Volunteer Program and how you can book a shift for your workplace, please visit this webpage.