It’s funny how things come full-circle. Having recently joined AmpleHarvest.org as Food Pantry Outreach Coordinator, I am excited to be combining two things I’m passionate about – the love of gardening and the love of service to others. These are two of the many things I learned to appreciate growing up in the small town of Beaver Meadows, PA (Population less than 1,000). It is why I’m so proud that the Beaver Meadows Food Pantry recently registered on AmpleHarvest.org.
As a Girl Scout, my first real volunteer experience was helping to stock the shelves at this food pantry. It instilled in me the value of service to others and the good that can come from giving just a few hours of your time to help those in need. The food pantry experience, as simple as it seemed, really opened my eyes to the needs of others and to remember that if you are fortunate to have enough, you should share your abundance with those in your community who may have fallen on hard times.
Jennifer Barnasevitch, my friend and mentor, has been managing the pantry for close to 20 years. “I became involved in the Beaver Meadows Pantry when the Boy Scout troop could no longer run it. Instead of it closing, the Cadette and Senior Girl Scout troop, which I am the leader of, took it over.” The pantry is an ongoing service project for the Girl Scout troop which serves Beaver Meadows and recipients from neighboring communities. The Beaver Meadows Food Pantry distributes food once a month on the third Thursday from 6:00-7:00pm at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and also supplies food in emergency circumstances.
When asked if there was an inspirational story she’d like to share about her involvement with the pantry, here’s what Jenn had to say: “I don’t have one specific experience of an inspirational story during my work with the food pantry. But, I believe it is a great learning experience for the girls who volunteer to help pack and distribute the food. And our recipients are very grateful and thankful, so that makes it worthwhile for me and the scouts.”
Jenn also added, “I love the idea of AmpleHarvest.org!” And I couldn’t agree with her more! AmpleHarvest.org is closing a loop in the system by helping pantries become visible to gardeners who have more produce than they can use or preserve. By bringing gardeners together with food pantries, AmpleHarvest.org is not only tackling hunger and malnutrition, but we are building community and connections that will hopefully continue, growing season after growing season.
So, whether you live in a small town like Beaver Meadows or a big city, if you’re fortunate to have an abundance of homegrown fruits or vegetables, consider helping your neighbors in need. It’s as easy as going to www.AmpleHarvest.org, typing in your zip code, and locating any food pantry in the area that will accept the produce from your garden. No matter what size your donation size is, those at the pantry will appreciate it!