Today was our first day volunteering at Food and Friends. We were all a little anxious and ready to begin our work at Food and Friends. When we arrived Jane, the volunteer coordinator, greeted us. We received our official Food and Friends Orientation and even got to meet students from other schools like Ithaca College and Boston University. For our first day of volunteering we were responsible for expediting the meals that would be delivered on tomorrow’s run. We had to learn how to read the packing labels, which contained vital information about the client. In addition before we began we were introduced to the various diets that Food and Friends catered; from low fat to diabetic it was all there. We worked for about three hours and bagged over 500 meals! After we were done we were treated to Oreo cheesecake, made by the head chef; this was delicious cheesecake and a great way to end our shift.

After our time at Food and friends we ate our lunches and headed out to the monuments. We saw the Washington monument and took a lot of great pictures. The fun wasn’t over yet, we made our way the Lincoln memorial. After paying a visit to Lincoln we headed to the Korean War memorial.

Our final destination for the day was Georgetown, where we had a cupcake from the famous Georgetown Cupcakes. After our busy day of site seeing we sat down to a delicious dinner at Paradiso Pizza, a Georgetown favorite. Finally we got our own personal tour of Georgetown University from one of Brittany’s friends who attend the university. It was so interesting to see how different the university was from USF.  I know that I am worn out from our adventures today and I am quite excited to see what else the trip has to offer.


Today marked the last day of service at Food and Friends. It was sad
because we have enjoyed the whole week volunteering with them.  They
have been extremely appreciative every day we have been there.  Seven
of us assisted Les with expediting the meals to go. We had to make the
bags by putting entrees and other items in the bag. Others helped with
administrative duties downstairs that consisted of labeling certain
kinds of mail.  With different groups from all over the United States
coming to Food and Friends, many of the tasks that we did got done
quicker than expected.  We worked with students from Ithaca College,
Boston University, and University of Indiana. It was cute how Charles
asked us if we need a break when we were working a three hour shift.
After volunteering, we split different ways to get something to eat.
We went back to the hotel and rested a bit and then got ready for a
group dinner at Chinatown.  The night scene in Washington D.C. is
amazing. We did some shopping at H & M and Forever 21 by the Metro
Center.   We had our last night group dinner at Mengs.  The place was
gorgeous and comfy. After dinner, we went to the Red Velvet Room where
they feature some of the best cupcakes in D.C.  Then the next stop was
Frozen Yo, which is amazing frozen yogurt with all sorts of toppings
one can choose from fresh fruits to chocolate chips.    What a great way
to end a week of being in Washington D.C!!

- Ruth

It felt like just yesterday that we learned what this organization was all about, but by Friday, our last day, we felt that we had developed a connection with the staff at Food and Friends.  Whether we were stuffing envelopes or sealing frozen meals, each member of our group felt appreciated.  Through our work this week is was apparent that Food and Friends developed significantly over its 22 years and knowing how to support its volunteers was a large part of that development.  Achieving a balance between accomplishing the organization’s mission and supporting volunteers is very difficult, but Food and Friends did this flawlessly.  The staff’s appreciation for volunteers and system for organizing volunteer tasks ensured that we would have a great experience as well as share in their mission to provide the best service for their clients.

I am proud of our group for working hard and being open to new experiences this week.  We took in quite a bit in six days, but each of us learned something new about ourselves, our nation’s capitol, and providing meals for those in need.  While some can’t wait to get back to their cars, others can’t wait to move to a large city.  All of us have certainly experienced enough cupcakes and frozen yogurt to last us awhile (or at least a couple days).  I am sure that our group will always remember this trip.  Thank you Ruth and Caitlyn for being awesome site leaders.  Brittany, Collette, Devon, Jalyssa, Mitzy, and Sandra, thank you for devoting your spring break to service and for all the memories!

~Angela, Graduate Advisor

Yummy in My Tummy

Wake up in the morning feeling like Obama

Got my metro card I’m out the door about to volunteer in the city.

Hit up 7Eleven grab a coffee to go

Hop on the train to get the show on the road

Arrive at Food and Friends where we can’t wait to see,

the groceries we will bag and the people we will feed.

From soft and diabetic, low fat to pureed

there was sure to be a different meal everyday.

After our service was done, to Arlington we will go,

to reflect on all of the soldiers whose bravery they did show.

We were blessed enough to see

the last living World War 1 veteran ceremony

and even John Kerry!

When dinner time arose, we wanted food with soul

So we went to Ben’s Chili Bowl.

After our hearty meal our beds we wanted to feel

The day was coming to an end and

we couldn’t wait to begin again!

~Brittany & Mitzy

Three words: My feet hurt! I know I am not the only one from my group who can vouch me on that one. We have seen so much in the past few days and we have done A LOT of walking. However, the calories we burn walking around all day are quickly consumed by the DELICIOUS food in D.C. Our group has been really blessed these past few days because we are getting to meet great people and see a lot of awesome things… all for FREE! Today was our third day at Food and Friends and we love it. Everyone there is so nice and caring. They really do appreciate their volunteers and do not hesitate to remind us everyday. I have never volunteered in an organization with such genuinely happy people. You can just tell they truly love what they do. I am so glad we had the opportunity to volunteer with Food and Friends because it has helped me realize non-profits are what I want to do as a career. I hope to come back to Tampa and find an organization I can be consistent with and really make a difference. Food and Friends helped me realize how much volunteers really do contribute to making everything running smoothly.

After volunteering today we went to Arlington Cemetery. We were planning on just walking around and seeing the changing of the guard but little did we know that we were going to be able to witness and partake in a monumental part of history. The last World War 1 veteran had past away and they had an open viewing with a closed casket to pay the respects to a veteran who fought for our freedom. He was 110 years old! I am honored for our group to have been able to partake in that moment in history. While in line waiting to pay our respects, in front of us was John Kerry! And afterwords we saw Obama’s motorcade. Needless to say, Yummy in My Tummy were feeling extremely blessed and excited to be in D.C. for all of this.

Can’t wait to see what is in store for us tomorrow! :)


Sorry I haven’t updated my blog in a few days. Our days at Tara Hall are really long. We pretty much spend all day with the kids, and when we get back after a long day all most of want to do is crash!

One of the highlights of our day was at the end of the day. We gathered all of the kids around in their cottage and gave them packages filled with USF stuff…including shirts, fans, pens, everything! You should have seen the looks on their faces…they were so excited to be getting all this stuff. A few of the kids were even jumping about how cool USF is and how they want to go there one day…it was pretty amazing.

- Janmarie

Today was the second to last day in D.C. as well as volunteering at Food and Friends. It is hard to take in the fact that this whole experience is coming to an end. Meeting new people, being able to help people with life threatening illnesses as well as enjoying the free time to tour D.C. for the first time.
At Food and Friends, our group was able to work in the kitchen. We portioned food and made entrees for their clients. We were able to meet the Executove Chef, Oscar and the Head Pastry Chef, Tim. It was really amazing to hear thier stories about how they have bcome a big part of the Food and Freinds family and what this non-profit means to them. Oscar expessed to us how he wanted everything to be as perfect as possible because we  want them to keep thier dignity and we truley do not know if the meal we are preparing for them will be their last. When he said that, it made me realize how important everything is, even if it is something as little as making sure the soup bowls look nice.
We did find time to visit the Botanical Gardens as well as the Natural History Museum. Unfortunately I have never been to the Botanical Gardens at USF, but going to the one in D.C. makes me want to visit ours. For the museum, my main goal was to see the Hope Diamond. Although the room was croweded, I was able to get all the way to the glass to be able to snap a shot of this priceless piece of jewelry that is a symbol of hope.
So every night we try to go to a new restaurant to try new foods. Tonight we actually found an Ethiopian Restuarant called EteEte. At this type of setting, your hands are your utensils. We all ordered all different things, and decided to be a loving group and share and taste each others food. It was very delicious and now I will be on the look out for one like it in Tampa.
I am so excited and grateful that I was chosen to go on this trip. I have met so many great people and I am happy that I was able to make a difference during our Spring Break. I hope I will be able to do another trip next year and continue to be exposed to the same experience and friendli-like people that I did in Washington, D.C. :)
- Jalyssa

Every morning, we get up at 6 am, everyone shuffles through their morning routine and we leave our hotel by 7:45, on to the metro and every morning, we always arrive early to our site at 9 am.

Food & Friends is a well-oiled and finely crafted machine. It runs so smoothly, our inclusion on its track is almost effortless. We do different tasks most days and each we try to do with as much care as possible. The passion is almost palpable. Nearly, if not every, individual in this organization has the utmost respect and gratitude for their volunteers. I have been doing community service for years and I have never felt so welcome and so wanted before. When noon finally comes around, we all find ourselves wishing we could just stay a little bit longer.

Our first two days we did “expediting” or packing of meals into convenient bags for delivery. Today, we handled grocery-to-go which entails packing grocery bags of food specific to their clients. Food & Friends feeds people in the DC area as well as other counties in Maryland and Virginia that are within a reasonable distance. Approximately 74% of those clients fall below the poverty line and some will give their meals to their children so Food & Friends offers groceries that extends up to 4 dependents. Furthermore, they also offer 11 different diets to accommodate whatever is needed of them.

Today we handled exactly that, George explained everything perfectly and we got done early. One (more) thing I can say about them is just how much detail they give us when they explain the tasks we are given, it is obvious that they deal with volunteers often in fact a majority of their workforce is through volunteerism and several other groups were and will continue to work there with us. So you definitely get a sense that they know what they’re doing and that’s comforting.

After that we had the day to ourselves as usual and we spent it by first going to the Holocaust Museum, then a little bit of shopping though only by half of the group and ended the day (and night) with an amazing dinner at Busboys and Poets where we got not only delicious and affordable (by DC standards anyway) food but also the opportunity to watch Open-Mic night. The poets, singers, and rappers were all talented and a joy to watch in their own right and I am once again grateful to be in this city and with this great group of people.

- Sandra

Sunday March 13, 2011

Today was our first day in Washington DC! I think the 20 hour bus ride yesterday drained everyone a little bit, but we had a full night’s rest and ended up having lots of energy for today. We got to sleep and took our time in the morning figuring out the metro system. Eventually we made our way over to the National Zoo.

We got to see beautiful lions and tigers and elephants, etc but only one panda was out. And let me tell you, those pandas are not nearly as white as they look in photographs. Regardless, they are still adorable. After the zoo we walked a ways and had dinner at a small café. Dinner was a little quiet at first but we decided to go around the table and share with everyone our favorite color and a strange smell that we like. This definitely broke the ice and allowed us to ease into conversation. After dinner we walked toward Dupont Circle and got ice cream at Larry’s, a small, family owned joint with the best ice cream I have ever tasted. I was so surprised how easily how group meshed with one another. We only have nine people in our group so we luckily don’t need to split up when we eat, etc. It has only been one day and we already feel like a family. I can’t wait to see how the dynamic of our group continues through the week after we have continued our volunteer work. I think our bond will only grow stronger and I am so excited to be a part of something so special!

- Caitlyn

The past couple of days at Tara Hall have been truly eventful. I just finished reflecting with my group, and we all agreed on the fact that we’re really surprised about everything that we’ve experienced with the boys thus far!

Tara Hall is a long term residential home that takes in boys who have been abused, neglected, or have serious behavioral issues. The boys live and receive their education at Tara Hall. Our mission for the week is to give the kids a week of fun and also provide a positive image for them to look up to.

Sometimes, I can’t even imagine that these boys would have issues so serious that they need to be here. These kids are some of the sweetest, funniest boys that you could ever meet! The boys are beyond excited that we are here. From the minute we came in, they latched on to us as if they had known us forever! Some of them have even developed the cutest, innocent crushes on us–writing sweet little love notes, similar to something we would’ve gotten in middle school!

Today, me and some of my participants had the opportunity to learn how to play the Dulcimer with the kids. Mr. Ron, their instructor, comes in regularly to teach the boys how to play this peculiar string instrument. It was really cool to see how talented the kids were with the Dulcimer. I was especially observant of Mr. Ron and the way that he instructed the children with such care. This made me think about the entire staff at Tara Hall and how they completely dedicate themselves to these boys. It’s so inspiring to see people who truly care, and who commit their lives to making a positive impact on children who need it the most.

- Janmarie Pena

Yummy in my Tummy is a volunteer group through USF’s Bulls Service Break. March 12th through 20th we are spending our spring break in Washington, DC serving food to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging diseases through the organization Food & Friends.

Reverend Carla Gorrell founded Food & Friends in 1988 when a friend, sick at home with AIDS, needed something to eat. What began as lunch for one has become 3 meals a day, for more than 1,450 individuals, six days a week. Over the past two decades, we have moved from a cramped church basement to our own state-of-the-art kitchen and pantry facility and initiated new programs to meet the changing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and other life-challenging illnesses in the Washington, DC, metropolitan community.

My name is Sandra Galusic and I am a participant of BSB 2011. I am a junior and a Biology major. I am a student assistant in the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement and a strong believer in the importance of volunteering as a part of a proper college education.