This blog was started in 2012 to share my thoughts about well-being/wellness. Although I have never tackled the issue of hunger, I think we can all agree that well-being cannot be achieved if hunger or food insecurity is an issue. My daughter Sarah was introduced to the concept of food insecurity when she was in 4th grade by PJ Collins, the founder of 10,000 PB&Js. It made an impact but took some time to sink in as you will read below. As a girl scout cadette, Sarah decided to tackle the problem of food insecurity as part of a Silver award project. She is now 13 years old and has worked on this project for the last 18 months. I have invited Sarah to be my guest blogger this month. The purpose of sharing her story is to educate and inspire others to solve hunger one garden at a time!
Girl Scout Silver Award Project
My name is Sarah Sandor, I live in a small town in Westchester County, New York called Pleasantville. When I was in the 4th grade a man named PJ Collins came in to talk to my class about homelessness in New York City. At that time I really didn’t understand what was going on in the world with hunger and poverty. He had us make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless. We put them in paper bags and he collected them. After that I told my mom what we did that day and she went to our Girl Scout troop and presented the idea to volunteer on Sunday nights. During the past couple of years, our troop would volunteer with 10,000 PB&Js once in a while but I really didn’t understand how this affected us. I enjoyed volunteering anyway. It was fun!
Two years ago, my mom told me about one of my friends who was volunteering in a food garden in my town. I thought this was strange; my mom always bought our vegetables at the local farmers market and a grocery store so I really didn’t know about local gardens. She insisted I volunteer with my friend and that started my work at the Pleasantville Community garden.
When I first met David Juros, he told me about how his son learned all about hunger in Westchester and started a garden in order to donate to Westchester food pantry (Hillside Food Outreach). I started my work for him helping with harvesting and planting.
David Juros came to Girl Scout events and my best friend and I really felt passionate about the work he does. We learned how to seed in the winter to get plants ready for spring.
Over time, I started realizing how much hunger is present in our otherwise affluent community and that it is swept under the rug and not talked about. My partner and I decided to focus our Girl Scout Silver Award project on spreading the word about hunger in our area and volunteering our time to help get fresh food to people who need it. Along the way, I got to connect with people that came to know firsthand about hunger and poverty and how one simple garden can impact the lives of families all over Westchester and how gardens with fresh foods and vegetables are in such need. I loved meeting with fantastic women like Susan Rubin who works at the Mt. Kisco Elementary School where 75% of the school is eligible for free lunch, and Jaime Posa who was my advisor.
I enjoyed working with great people like PJ Collins and David Juros who changed my life for the better. I volunteered at the Pleasantville Community Garden, and we hosted a yoga event for HIllside Food Outreach, and we did many presentations.
I learned how people take things for granted every day and how much families struggle and we don’t know about it. One in five people in Westchester experience food insecurity. I am so happy I was able to dedicate 50 hours to this important cause. And I’m so happy that I can pass on the journey I went on to other girls like me. There are many organizations that need volunteers and donations. The links are below. I also want to encourage other school systems and communities to build their own gardens to solve the hunger problem in Westchester. Let’s GROW food!