Rachael Bell, Baylor University
Rachael Bell, a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and a participant of the 2013 Shepherd Internship Program, shares a reflection on her summer with the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
While interning at the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB), most days were different. I would work on daily projects, visit community gardens in the metro Atlanta area, and help out with the different programs at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The ACFB has many programs including the Product Recovery Center (PRC), Kids In Need, and Mobile Benefit Screening, just to name a few. While the ACFB does distribute millions of pounds of food to agencies each year, they are also able to do much more. Their mission to fight hunger “by educating, engaging, and empowering the community” has enabled them to have so many diverse programs.
Since I am specifically a community gardens intern, I will recall a day working in the community gardens department. Around 6:30 a.m. my alarm clock goes off pulling my sleepy self out of sleep. I crawl out of bed and get ready for a day of harvesting in the garden. I’m on the road by around 7:15 and arrive at work by 7:45. Fred and I load up tools, wheelbarrows, ice chests, and crates and we are on our way a quarter after 8 a.m.
We meet a happy group of volunteers at the garden and Fred tells them about the mission of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, all the wonderful programs, and about community gardening. Community gardening is very important because it brings nutritious food to families that could otherwise not afford it. Also, gardening allows for a sense of accomplishment and gives the gardeners something to always look forward to (weeding, planting, etc.) Lastly, community gardening builds a strong support system, as these gardeners grow close and would notice a change in each other’s lives. At the garden, Fred runs power equipment while Amy, Lili, and I direct the volunteers. We harvest a wide variety of vegetables and work on the garden if time permits. Around noon we stop for lunch and thank the volunteers for their hard work. It is fun getting to meet different groups that come out each week to help in the garden. In the afternoon, we weigh the produce and put it on the shopping floor. Agencies come pick up the produce from the shopping floor and take it back to give to those in need. Later, I work on the Plant a Row for the Hungry Campaign, which collects the amount of produce being donated all over the Atlanta metro area to those in need. This year local farmers and organizations donated over 30,000 pounds of produce. It is a lot of fun to talk to so many different people on the phone and hear about all the good they are doing for the community. I have learned about so many wonderful agencies in the Atlanta area fighting both hunger and poverty.
My internship at the Atlanta Community Food Bank challenged my ideals on poverty and prompted me to make a difference in my own town. I have gained so much knowledge and experience from working in the garden and talking with the people I have met. I am so thankful for all I have learned and for this valuable opportunity.