At his day job, Alvin Yam uses his hands to design tools and custom parts for complicated machinery. But on this morning at the North Texas Food Bank, where he has volunteered for years, he’s using them to fill bags with sweet potatoes, onions and cabbage, knowing they’ll help provide a family with a good meal.
Yam is among many employees of Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, who works to help families facing food insecurity. RI&S made a recent $100,000 contribution across four Feeding America food bank affiliates in communities where its employees live and work.
“Hunger can touch nearly any community and most often affects households with children,” said Tracey Gray, vice president of Communications & Public Affairs for Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “That is why our company is making food bank contributions that will provide for nearly 300,000 meals to those who are still affected as the pandemic continues.”
Yam has never used food assistance himself, but he’s still familiar with what it is to face hunger.
“My mom grew up in the Philippines during World War II and was food insecure for a while,” Yam said. “My grandfather worked for the government there and would bring home one meal a day as part of his pay. That was the dinner for all four in the family.”
It’s one reason Yam wants to give back to his community. He has been promoted to a “Kernel” at the North Texas Food Bank, which is the “rank” given to dedicated, regular volunteers who lead others during volunteer shifts. He ensures assembly line volunteers have pallets of rice, sauce, spaghetti, beans and other foods close at hand to quickly pack hundreds of food boxes rolling down the assembly line.
RI&S employees’ volunteer work at food banks has been especially important throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They have helped pack and distribute nearly 800,000 boxes of food alongside many of its community partners including USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore, The Mission Continues, 9/11 Day, Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles Harbor, and Operation Homefront, as well as local food banks in cities where the business has a large number of employees.
All it takes is one unexpected event,” Yam said about how quickly a family can go hungry.
The business unit’s donation to food banks was split between the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C.; Food Bank of the Rockies in Colorado; North Texas Food Bank; and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Employees also consistently step up to volunteer at these food banks. For the last 16 years, employees at the RI&S campus in El Segundo, California, have volunteered at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, packing food boxes for seniors, children and families.
Funding and volunteer resources are being used wisely, as many food banks are using data like unemployment rates, area populations, and food distribution sources to make near real-time decisions about which communities will need food assistance in the coming weeks.
George Yu, a manager in the RI&S Digital Technology organization, volunteers at the food bank in downtown Los Angeles with the company’s Asia Pacific employee resource group.
“I am very fortunate to be able to represent the company and reach deep into our communities to help where it is needed the most,” Yu said.
For Yam, volunteering at the food bank is more fun than a chore. “Last year, I volunteered with RI&S co-workers at one of the Family Food Box distribution events,” Yam said. “Being thanked by strangers and hearing their stories about how much the boxes were going to help them was a real eye-opener.”