No Such Thing as a “Typical Farm to Freezer Volunteer”

By Jenny Roe

Volunteers at Farm to Freezer are an eclectic group, coming from all different backgrounds, varying ages and experiences.  Some volunteers are retired while others work full time, some are mothers and mothers to be, and there are those who have not even completed college or high school. The one thing that all of the volunteers have in common is their enthusiasm for working hard to support our community.  Every weekend the kitchen in Silver Spring’s Woodside United Methodist Church is filled with 5-8 eager beavers waiting to wash, chop, blanch, bake, and package fresh, local produce.  I have spent the past five weeks getting to know various people and hearing their stories about life and their interests. I thought it would be interesting to share some of these encounters so people can see how ANYBODY is welcome to get involved with Farm to Freezer and make a real difference.

Steve cleans some eggplant.

Steve cleans some eggplant.

My first week in the kitchen was the most memorable because of the people working along side of me. There was a retired dentist and his wife who are extremely generous with their time as they volunteer with multiple organizations in the community and a mother with her 16 year-old son, Avi.  He was looking for a meaningful way to spend his time this summer. It made me think about how I spent my teenage summers, usually traveling or being lazy with friends, I wish I had thought to donate some of my time to a good cause back then.  I have so much respect for his hard work and amazing commitment to making a difference. Avi has returned to the kitchen several times and plans on continuing to help until school starts.

The following kitchen day there were mostly women, along with Cheryl’s husband, Bill a Farm to Freezer regular and Steve, an active retired dentist who does a lot of varied volunteer work. Among these awesome, energetic people was Eliza, a working mother of two and six months pregnant with her third.  Yes, it was truly inspiring to meet a woman who found time and energy to volunteer in the kitchen. You can read about Eliza’s experience on her blog in The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Patch.

Olivia prepares the tomato sauce.

Olivia prepares the tomato sauce.

Another weekend brought together women who are in college with those in their 50’s and 60’s. Olivia is currently studying nursing in college and decided to help out to earn community service hours for her sorority. She explained, “I volunteered at the library for quite a while but wanted to do something more active than sit behind a desk.”  Olivia found Farm to Freezer to be the perfect volunteer experience (because trust me, there is never a dull moment). We had people this weekend who work in the finance industry, health care sector, and government agencies. One volunteer celebrated her birthday by gathering four friends to volunteer with Farm to Freezer, followed by inviting the crew back to her house for dinner. Last Sunday,  Montgomery County Council member Hans Reimer joined us in the kitchen and we were thrilled to have our elected official join us!

Hans Reimer and crew

County Council member Hans Reimer joins in with Farm to Freezer

So what are you waiting for? You can tell from just these few stories that people from all walks of life are volunteering with Farm to Freezer and changing our system to reduce food waste and feed the under-served healthy, delicious meals. Find a day that works for you and dedicate it to coming into our kitchen an afternoon, you won’t regret it. You can sign up using our calendar; dates are added monthly.

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