As country music blasted over the sound system, hundreds of Marathon Oil employees in bright blue T-shirts were hard at work at the Houston Food Bank Thursday, Dec. 7. One group worked in multiple assembly lines, filling bags with an assortment of food basics. Another group sorted incoming donated goods. A third group chopped vegetables and cut fruit, and a fourth group worked in the emergency food pantry. The tasks varied, but the spirit was the same: working side-by-side to give back to the community.
Marathon Oil is a long-standing supporter of the Houston Food Bank, America's largest food bank. Through a network of 600 hunger relief charities, the Houston Food Bank provides 83 million nutritious meals to food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers and other agencies in 18 southeast Texas counties.
This year, Marathon Oil hosted its second all-Houston employee volunteer day at the Houston Food Bank. A greater awareness of food insecurity issues following the impact of Hurricane Harvey gave this year's event special meaning.
"The food bank does great work," said IT manager Roger, barely pausing in his sorting task. "And they did especially great work in the days after Harvey."
"I'd be here with or without the hurricane, because food is a basic need," noted Bren, a computer geoscientist. "It hits right at home at the dining room table."
CEO Lee Tillman was also on the assembly line. "I'm so glad to be here, to roll up my sleeves and help," he said. "We are so blessed – it's time to give back."
During the two-hour work shift, the teams packed 18 pallets of food bags for the backpack buddy program, equivalent to 16,200 meals, and sorted 5,740 pounds of donations, equal to 4,784 meals, as well as doing food prep for 100 meals.
She noted that in addition to volunteer efforts, Marathon Oil's support includes sponsorship of the Houston Food Bank Backpack Buddies program, which works through schools to provide weekend food supplies for students identified as needing this assistance. "We love having the volunteers here, and Marathon Oil's willingness to give us time on a weekday is a huge help."
Toward the end of the event, Russell, a health, environment and safety (HES) manager, pointed out an unexpected benefit: "It's a real workout," he said. "I just hit my 10,000 steps for the day."