Food Bank Innovations | VolunTOURism

February 19, 2019

Terry Hardie is a retiree, living with his wife in Boulder Colorado, so it was a little strange spotting him so far from home, bagging rice in our San Francisco warehouse.  Even more strange, perhaps, is that his involvement at the Food Bank was courtesy of a well-known cruise ship line.

For the past 2 years, Crystal Cruises has been developing a program that encourages passengers, like Terry, to not only enjoy each port-of-call in leisure, but to also do something special to give back to the local communities in some way.

Marco Estrada, Shore Excursion Manager with Crystal explains, “We call it ‘You Care, We Care.’ Our off-shore itinerary now includes options to visit specially-selected nonprofits, where passengers can volunteer.  So far, it’s been very well-received, with hundreds of visits logged in places like San Francisco, Columbia, and Thailand.”

Terry says he regularly volunteers at home, so doing so while he vacations is very natural.  “I’m one of those people who can’t sit still for very long. I like to be active and productive in my daily life, so when I learned about this opportunity while vacationing with my wife, I decided to make a go of it and come out here today to help feed less fortunate people living in San Francisco.”

Over the past two years, the Food Bank has seen several groups from Crystal Cruises stop by the warehouse and give a few hours of their time.

“When you’re pushing out millions of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables every year, every set of hands counts,” says Food Bank Community Engagement Manager Cody Jang. “We applaud Crystal Cruises for partnering with us.  We certainly get something out of the deal, but we also hope passengers come away with a better understanding that hunger exists everywhere – including a beautiful tourist destination like San Francisco.”

Estrada says as far as they know, Crystal is one of the only cruise ship lines that has ventured in this direction, but he thinks ‘volun-tour-ism’ will only grow as more people with the means to travel continue to recognize the power of altruism.

Click here for more information on the “We Care You Care” program.