College is a phase of life often associated with new friends, new opportunities and new challenges toward living independently, but one local college student is using her time in college to help put food in the hands of others who need it most.
Rosalind Wallace Brown is a student pursuing a degree in Social Work at Missouri Western State University. As part of her degree program, she recently served as an intern at Second Harvest Community Food Bank. During her internship, Rosalind worked as a floater, participating in the efforts of several programs at Second Harvest. These programs included Senior Boxes, Fresh Start and helping applicants seeking assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and Second Harvest’s food pantry cards.
As a former recipient of services from Second Harvest, Rosalind knows how important it is for food resources to be available. During the time that she sought help, the food bank was short on supplies, and she was not able to obtain the food she needed. “I know first-hand about the role that food banks play in providing supplemental assistance to those receiving SNAP benefits, and how food banks help people as they live in circumstances that make food difficult to obtain,” says Rosalind.
Rosalind already knew that it’s critical for food banks to have food available when needs arise, but what surprised her during her internship, was the level of dedication she saw among Second Harvest volunteers and employees as they went about their jobs. “The organization has a lot of heart, people sacrifice their time and vehicles to make sure programs run efficiently,” she says.
She had a chance to share her own dedication on several occasions during her internship, including a time when she helped a woman apply for a food pantry card. In the course of the conversation, Rosalind learned that the woman’s grandchild was having a birthday that day, but the woman wasn’t sure how she would pull off any kind of celebration. Rosalind remembered that a food shipment had come in to Second Harvest, and on that shipment she knew there were cakes. Rosalind had a cake delivered to her desk to surprise the woman so that she could celebrate with her grandchild.
“As I worked with volunteers at Second Harvest, I was continually struck by the sheer number of volunteers needed to run the programs,” she adds. “The organization needs volunteers to do behind-the-scenes tasks, like filling backpacks for Backpack Buddies, and for ongoing initiatives — but they sometimes simply do not have the number of people needed to do the job.”
During her internship at Second Harvest, she also noticed that the ongoing work of helping meet needs for individuals, families and seniors can be high-energy and high-stress. “The volunteers here are committed at a deep level to connecting members with the services they need, not only for the immediate moment, but also for creating a better future. When resources are short or volunteers are missing, it can get stressful,” Rosalind says.
Rosalind knew that social work was her calling, but she was able to gain some real-life application toward her field of study by choosing Second Harvest for her internship. Following graduation, Rosalind will continue to work at Second Harvest on a part-time basis, serving as an advocate for her food insecure neighbors.