Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An intern reflects on her experience

As our interns wrap up their semester with us, Eliza Gillilan reflects on her time with us...

Although my time was limited here at GardenShare, I came away with a deeper insight into food insecurity in the North Country and the creative programs that this great organization utilizes to try and eliminate it. Something I learned in a sociology course this semester is that poverty and hunger systemic problems and utilizing psychological reductionism, which is to blame the victim, is as useless as it is absurd in fixing the problem. Instead, programs like GardenShare are taking initiative in promoting their belief that everyone deserves access to healthy food. 

Something really important that GardenShare does to put hunger issues in perspective is Hunger 101. This is a role-playing activity that allows participants to see the challenge faced by many people to provide healthy food for their families and can help dispel some of the stereotypes and assumptions that some people harbor when it comes to hunger. In addition to this, I learned through GardenShare how many government organizations provide some sort of food benefits for eligible citizens such as Farmers' Market Nutrition Program and SNAP. As important as it is for GardenShare to spread the word about these, they go a step further to provide their own programs such as bonus bucks through the ongoing support of donors and grants that help to supplement government aid and encourage local eating. 

The fact that the programs encourage people to eat locally is equally as important to me. It is one thing to be able to afford the fruits and vegetables available in the grocery store, but local produce can sometimes come with a much steeper price tag. Helping make the farmers market accessible to everyone is a key step in helping local farmers continue their work of providing communities with the freshest food possible. This local food movement is just a byproduct of the mission of tackling hunger that GardenShare harbors, but it can also have positive impacts on the environment because the food does not have to travel as far, and helps keep money in the local economy. What GardenShare is doing is a win for everybody, the citizens of St. Lawrence County, the local economy, and the environment and I hope to see organizations that follow GardenShare’s example become a more widespread presence across the country in the future.