P&P Intern Imran Ganda ’20 works to alleviate food insecurity this summer
If every child experiencing food insecurity in Addison County tried to get a meal at the Grille, those in line would fill the capacity at Middlebury College’s student restaurant, then spill out into the auditorium and occupy every seat. And that would only be half of the total local children experiencing food insecurity.
CCE interns are learning about the deep connections between poverty and food insecurity firsthand this summer. One of our P&P interns, Imran Ganda ’20, is working at HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects), one of the leading food access providers in Addison County. HOPE runs a number of programs, from housing and heating assistance to a resale store and – of course – a really, really big food shelf.
“We consistently get folks coming up from Rutland,” says Lily Bradburn, HOPE’s Local Food Access Coordinator. “There really isn’t an equivalent surplus area anywhere else. Every day you can come here, and walk away with a bag of groceries.”
What’s the difference? HOPE is open Monday through Friday, an accessibility which is rare for a food shelf. Its quality and variety of food compliments its offering’s quantity and availability.
“Once I sign up clients, they just get blown away by the food shelf in the back, the kind of variety there is,” says Imran, who helps every client who walks through HOPE’s doors get the specific help that they are looking for.
Once I sign up clients, they just get blown away by the food shelf in the back, the kind of variety there is.
HOPE doesn’t wait around for people to come to them, either. Its food access program delivers nutritious, fresh food to a variety of different places, like the Addison Central Teen Center’s afterschool and summer programs.
“It’s a program where we can have different levels of engagement with clients, volunteers, donors – it [has] really well balanced access points,” says Lily.
Interns with HOPE aren’t just learning about food, however. They’re also learning about a different work environment, and how to see Addison County in a different way.
When asked about takeaways from this summer, Imran replied “Learning how to work in an office culture, seeing how people interact across organizations at meetings, seeing our [Privilege & Poverty intern] discussions reflected in the work.”
But, perhaps more powerful than an understanding of offices and meetings, was the feeling of familiarity that developed around the work.
“These past three years I haven’t really been able to interact with regular locals in the area,” says Imran. “One of the biggest takeaways from this internship is the experience of feeling a little more normal again, of feeling like myself.”
It will take more than a well-stocked food pantry to diminish poverty’s impacts on children. But there is a common thread of a subtle intensity behind the people I spoke to gathering this story; a determination in their friendly personalities, committed to reducing food insecurity for as many as individuals and families as possible.
Our interview, on early Friday morning, was one of the few things Lily could do that day, before she hit her 40 hour work week and had to go home.
“I’m bumping up on forty again,” she said, in a tone that felt more frustrated than grateful that the long week was coming to a close. It looks like she has found her familiarity in this work as well, and Addison County is better off for it.