When Mary Lou Dzambo joined Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in May 2020 as a temporary customer service and logistics agent, her job as a childcare director was on hold due to the pandemic.
“I took this position to fill in the gap until school started again,” she said.
She never imagined nearly ten months later, she would be working full-time at the Food Bank, ensuring food is delivered to seniors in three counties each week.
The Doorstep Delivery program brings groceries to some of our most vulnerable neighbors. Individuals living in Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties who are homebound and 60 or older can receive a box of shelf-stable food delivered right to their door.
Mary Lou coordinates the delivery schedules, checks in the volunteers who deliver the boxes and makes sure the program runs smoothly each week. She recalls the early days of working at the Food Bank.
“It was a rush to get as much food as we could to as many people as we could. Because of the pandemic, people were really struggling. They were not sure where their next meal was coming from,” she said.
Over time, Mary Lou has gotten to know the Doorstep Delivery volunteers, many of whom return each week.
“They can pick up their route sheet, and they can say, ‘Oh, I’ve been here before. We have to ring her bell. Did she give you the code?’ They recognize who they’re delivering to each week,” she explained.
Working at the Food Bank has been a unique experience for Mary Lou because her husband, Tom, also works for the organization. Part of the Food Bank for more than 22 years and currently the Operations Manager, Tom ensures the warehouse is stocked with food, deliveries are made and orders go out to member agencies.
“I never realized, before I started to work here, that the answer to just about every question at the food bank was, ‘Go ask Tom.’ Really, and truly, you hear it a thousand times a day,” she laughed. “It is nice to see the behind-the-scenes, the inner workings.”
It wasn’t long before Mary Lou accepted the full-time role at the Food Bank. She says she is grateful to come to work each day.
“It is one of the few chances when you get to go to work every day and you know that you’re doing something to change someone’s day. You know you’re making Mrs. Smith happy because she’s got apple juice for the first time in three weeks. Or it’s the first time in a couple months that she’s able to make something besides grilled cheese,” she said.
As Mary Lou looks into the future, she is excited about the new and innovative ways in which the Food Bank can get nutritious groceries to those who need it.
“While this way of getting food to people is something that COVID fast-tracked into reality, it’s something that will live on and serve our neighbors for many years to come,” she said.