Trying on Some New Hats

This week at the Broad Street Food Pantry I got to create and lead my first program! Twice a month from May-October, the pantry holds a produce market where we serve over 10,000 pounds of food to our community members. Volunteers entertain kids at the “Market Sprouts” tent with educational games and activities while clients shop.  For this week’s program, we assisted the “sprouts” (kids) in making take-home container gardens with tomatoes, jalapeños, and cilantro! We also had salsa for the kids to snack on so that they could see the results of their future plants in delicious and nutritious action. I loved hearing kids of all different ages excitedly and proudly share what they already knew about roots, soil, and the science of growing plants. The program ended up being a fun, engaging (albeit messy) way to capture the kid’s attention while applying their previous education to a practical, hands-on endeavor. As an added bonus, many of our clients will now have a small start to more reliable access to fresh, healthy produce with gardens in their own homes!

Market Sprouts

Planting with John, a precocious 9-year-old who informed me about healthy soil and the dangers of resource depletion.

Now that I am settling into my summer placement, friends and family often ask what a “typical” day is like for me. I get the feeling that this is an impossible question to answer for most who work in the non-profit sector. Some days, I’m a data analyst conducting surveys and converting my findings into meaningful and easily digestible results. Other days I’m a publicist deciding how to market our new programs, classes, and health initiatives to maximize client attendance and retention. Today, I might be a salesperson “pitching” a program idea to a grant committee or foundation. Tomorrow, I could be a leader and organizer of volunteers instilling the confidence and knowledge they need to, in turn, empower their neighbors with improved skills and resources. Every day, I am, undoubtedly, a student learning from our clients, our neighbors, and our professional partners. It’s a lot of different “hats” for one head! But, the variety (for better or worse) is great practice in adaptability, creativity, effective communicating, and finding confidence in the face of new and daunting challenges. For those of you concerned I wouldn’t find a job with “just” an English degree, don’t worry, I’ve already found at least nine in one!

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