Volunteer Spotlight: Melanie and John Brown Find Purpose in Addressing Hunger

The retired couple volunteer one to two times each week at NTFB’s Perot Family Campus.

John and Melanie Brown knew they wanted volunteering to be a regular part of their routine when they retired. The couple who lives in Plano considered a few different options but ultimately landed at the North Texas Food Bank because they believe in the importance of alleviating hunger.

“A lot of things start with hunger, so that’s where the root problem is and is somewhere we could make a difference,” Melanie says.

Melanie first volunteered at NTFB with her former company, Prudential. When she retired in 2020 after 26 years there, she began giving one to two mornings a week to the Food Bank, helping pack Food 4 Kids boxes, run produce pallets and more.

“I’m working my way around, trying to do everything,” she says. “I think giving back to the community is important and it gets lost in the United States, but it’s important to me.”

John, meanwhile, heard all about the great time Melanie was having while helping and meeting new people at NTFB. So, when he retired in 2023 after driving a truck for 10 years and working with an audio-visual company for 30-plus years before that, he also wanted to get involved.

“I really enjoy it,” he says. “Everyone is so nice, it’s a good cause and I like the physical activity.”

Melanie says they knew that hunger existed in North Texas, but they were “shocked and dismayed” to learn this year that the Food Bank distributes around 400,000 meals a day.

To anyone thinking about volunteering, Melanie and John say there are few better ways to spend your time.

And if helping in the warehouse isn’t for you, Melanie says to consider giving a few hours at a community partner since around 90 percent of NTFB food is distributed by its partner food pantries and organizations.

Having worked in some capacity since he was 12, John adds that volunteering regularly helps keep him busy and gives him purpose.

“I would like to think that I appreciate the Food Bank as much as the Food Bank appreciates me,” he says. “And not just because it’s fun to come here, but on a deeper level I know that it’s so important for people, children especially—400,000 meals a day. It’s an enormous number and it’s frightening that it’s necessary.”

Kathleen Petty is communications manager for the North Texas Food Bank.

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