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Volunteer Spotlight: Sheryl

April 19, 2021
handwritten to-do list and cup of coffee
Jamie McCarthy

It’s National Volunteer Week and we are so grateful to have volunteers donating their time to help this year! Volunteers have been utilizing their time and talents to help identify food pantries in their communities, as well as, reaching out to gardeners to let them know they can donate extra produce from their gardens.

Today we would like to shine the spotlight on one of those volunteers, Sheryl Goins. Sheryl has been volunteering with us since late 2020. She has helped identify close to 1,000 food pantries across the United States that are not yet registered on Her commitment and dedication to helping food pantries have visibility on and access to fresh produce is truly commendable and we are so very fortunate to have Sheryl working with us as a volunteer! We asked her to share some insights on how she found and what her volunteer experience has been like so far. 

*Interested in volunteering? Email [email protected] for more information.

Image of volunteer Sheryl Goins
Superstar volunteer Sheryl

Tell me how you first got involved in with / how did you hear about our organization?

Interestingly, I was investigating another volunteer opportunity (counseling the elderly on telephone scams) through the AARP website. I happened to see an appeal from looking for volunteers, and since I have always been moved by the tragedy of hunger, I decided to check this organization out. I watched some TED talks by Gary Oppenheimer and knew this was an idea I could really get behind.

What do you find most challenging about bringing awareness to hunger/ gardening food waste?

They say “old habits die hard” and that is certainly true with this situation.  Several of the pantry reps I have spoken to have limited their operations to dry, non-perishable foods, and resist what we have to offer, even though I explain to them how the growers will work with them to deliver right before their families arrive. Or they think they cannot participate due to an affiliation with a regional food bank. So we do have to overcome that outdated thinking and realize there is a better way to service the communities they represent.  On the grower’s side, we have to make things as easy as possible for them (by providing pantry options in close proximity) to ensure they won’t let their excess produce go to waste.

What do you wish other people knew about hunger/ gardening food waste or about

I am finding (in my searches for new pantries to register) that many of them do not have sufficient contact information to let people in need (or even growers) find them. They might list a phone number, but they seldom answer their phones. Some have a “contact us” form to fill out, but if people don’t have access to a computer – or don’t have time to wait for an answer, that won’t help. In this age of technology, I would think all pantries large or small should at least have a (free) email address set up and someone to man the incoming emails. They need to be more visible for sure.

Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to work with

This one is easy. Gary Oppenheimer is so inspiring in his vision of ending food waste and hunger, I didn’t think twice about joining this organization.  And he practices what he preaches.  

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned during your volunteer time with

As my primary task with is to find new pantries in all 50 states who are not already registered with us, I am surprised that there are so many pantries in our country – tens of thousands! I was also shocked to learn that wasted food contributes to global warming. I had no idea.

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?

I spend a great deal of time with awesome college students from China, South Korea & Japan in my position at the University of Central Florida as coordinator of our International Disney Internship Program. It is such a great honor to get to know these young people and to learn about their beautiful languages, cultures and customs.

What do you do when you aren’t (working, volunteering)?

I love animals, especially cats. I have fostered hundreds of homeless cats in my home and have always had multiple pets of my own. I love the beautiful Florida weather and scenery, and enjoy day trips to the East & West coast beaches (especially New Smyrna Beach). As for hobbies, I love to attend heavy metal concerts, I’m teaching myself to play keyboards and I’m about to begin rock painting as a fun activity to do with my Mom at home.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience?

Although I am relatively new to, I am impressed with the dedication and professionalism of both Gary and Leanne. They both seem so committed to this wonderful program and provide lots of support, moral and otherwise, to their volunteers. I look forward to learning more about the day-to-day operation of and in helping out in many other ways!

*Interested in volunteering? Email [email protected] for more information.

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