This is a guest blog post written by our Summer Youth Interns who worked with our Volunteer department.
Kennedi Fitts, St. Cecilia Academy
Dr. Dorothy Height, a noted American social activist once said, “Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.” Dr. Height’s statement is very applicable to my summer well spent at Second Harvest. Before this summer, I was not so much oblivious to hunger, but I was not as knowledgeable about the hunger epidemic in Tennessee as I am now. During my countless adventures in the cooler, it was brought to my attention that meat and other perishable foods are the first items to be cut from one’s grocery list. Many hungry families cannot afford to buy macaroni, let alone meat and other perishable food items. I always knew there were unfortunate cases where families were hungry, but it never occurred to me that the basic foods that I eat every day, is a treat to many hungry families. What I take for granted, they are gratified by. My mother and I go to various grocery stores, but I never took the time to think about what happens to the damaged/expired foods. After my second day at Second Harvest, I was educated about how many grocery stores refuse to display produce that is no longer refined on their shelves; it is instead donated to Second Harvest.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” well said by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi’s quote speaks well for what I experienced at Una Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee. July 8th was the most rewarding day of my entire summer working at Second Harvest. With feelings of unfamiliarity and anxiety, I walked through the awning of Una Church of Christ and engrossed myself in work. I began to bag squash and break down boxes when great masses of families began to line up in front of the assembly line of non-perishable goods. Once the shopping carts were released to each family, they began to make their way around all the tables, through the assemble line. At that moment, I became cognizant of how many families in Nashville are affected by the deprivation of food. It was so satisfying to see the gratitude that so many families showed; it was so amazing to see so many children get excited to take home the foods that they normally could not afford; it was also gratifying to see fortunate people come and get food for someone who they knew had a limited food supply; it was truly a blessing to see. While it was amazing to see all the food that I’ve been working with in the warehouse be put to great use, it was also very disheartening to see how people from all walks of life are in need of food.
In my last few weeks as a Second Harvest intern, I am more perspicuous about food deprivation than I believe I have ever been, and I’m grateful for that. After learning about many food deprivation statistics, it has encouraged me to make more of an effort to volunteer at various soup kitchens, and donation sites to help those who are hungry and in need of food. In the future, I plan to volunteer more often at the soup kitchen that my church started, Samaritan Ministry, where volunteers fix food and cater to those who are less fortunate. This internship has also taught me the importance of service as well as the important of a good work ethic. Muhammad Ali humbly stated, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth”. In my opinion, I am learning to pay my rent. During my time at Second Harvest, the two most valuable lessons that I assimilated are: while I am on this Earth, the best thing that I can do is serve and help others, and the only thing that you come with and leave a job with is your work ethic. My summer internship at Second Harvest has been extremely eye opening and thought provoking. I will forever be grateful for the experience.
Thomas Deroche, Montgomery Bell Academy
I have learned that one in every six adults in Tennessee is food insecure which is a shocking statistic, but one in four children is as well is even worse. I have also learned that the choice for some people, especially for older people, is paying for medicine or paying for food, while for others it might be something like paying for electricity. I learned that some kids don’t look forward to weekends and summertime because that means that they won’t have any food, because school programs that give out food are stopped.
I was very surprised to find out how many people in our community are food insecure. I learned that Second Harvest partners with about 450 other agencies to get food to people in Tennessee. Some of these programs include the backpack program which provides food for kids when they aren’t in school and the Senior Nutrition program for older adults when they are in need of food. My special project was helping out at one of the mobile food pantries. We sorted out 33,660 pounds of food which we then distributed to approximately 150 families. I was really surprised how many families went hungry in the town next to mine. The extra food that was not handed out at the mobile food pantry was then given to Graceworks which is a food store where people can come in and get free food.
I hope to spread these facts so others know more about hunger in the Nashville area as well. I hope I can encourage a greater involvement within my school in Second Harvest and/or some of its partner agencies. I also would like to do multiple food drives within my school to be able to make a difference in our community. Finally, I hope to be a resource for Second Harvest so that they can contact me if they have a special need that I could help facilitate volunteers from MBA.
We are so grateful for their dedication to our mission this summer! If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer opportunities, please visit our website here.