When Cinda Houston was looking around for a volunteer opportunity last year, she decided Community Action Services and Food Bank was the right fit for her because of its philosophy.

“It’s the fact that we teach people not just reliance but independence,” said Houston, a clinical dietitian at Mountain View Hospital in Payson. “The programs that they provide encompass other things than just providing food. The knowledge and education set them apart.”

Community Action Services’s philosophy is to first stabilize people and then give them the education and resources they need to break out of poverty.

Houston spends Friday afternoons volunteering in the food bank. She helps clients go through the pantry. That means she helps them fill their carts with their allotted food, which is based on family size. She also helps them keep track of what they have, and find what they want. She’s usually there for about three hours, and she helps one client after another—sometimes as many as ten during her volunteer shift.

“It gets so fast and furious,” she said. “2:30 is rush hour, we’ll be backed up sometimes.”

But even though it’s busy, the staff are excellent, she said. “The staff at Community Action are great to work with. I feel appreciated and needed when I am there, as Friday afternoons can be quite busy. The staff are friendly and kind, and I always feel welcome.”

She said her training as a dietician comes in handy at the food bank.

“I thought I’d be of service, and help people make good decisions,” Houston said. “I’m shocked about how many people don’t know what certain foods are or how to use them.”

So she gives clients guidance on how to use unfamiliar foods and create meals with them. “I do find that part rewarding, being able to use some of the skills I have.”

She also uses what she learns at Community Action Services at her job, where she sometimes sees patients who are experiencing food insecurity. “I direct them to the food bank, and familiarize them with resources in the community.”

If you’re interested in joining Houston as a volunteer at Community Action Services, check out our volunteer opportunities here.