Voices of Hunger Relief: Naomi Wente
Naomi Wente has found Second Harvest Heartland to be the perfect place to use her degrees in political science and environmental studies with a focus in food systems.
Starting as a seasonal employee, she assisted the food sourcing department with outreach around the Farm to Foodshelf program, funded by the State of Minnesota, encouraging growers to donate unharvested and unsold fresh produce to food banks and food shelves. Naomi used her knowledge and connections to educate the state’s edible crop producers and processors about the opportunity through the program to offset a portion of their costs to harvest and package for transfer donated produce that would otherwise go unharvested or unsold. It was a job tailor-made for her passions.
As the harvest season came to an end, so did Naomi’s position. There was an opening in the field services department where Naomi now resides as a full-time agency services representative—supporting Second Harvest Heartland’s work with more than 1,000 food shelves, pantries and other partner programs.
Second Harvest Heartland’s three agency service representatives (ASRs), including Naomi, are on the phone, helping support our agency partners in everything they do, and making the right connections between them and our supply chain to help ensure food from the warehouse connects to our partners and neighbors in need. Moving food is fast-paced and complex, so when challenges arise, the ASRs are at the frontline—finding and delivering solutions for our agency partners.
“In agency services, I feel closer to hunger in a different way,” said Naomi. “I have a lot of passion for service; this position allows me to do just that—serve. Knowing I have the tools and resources through my team and organization to help end hunger by working directly with the agency partners who serve clients is powerful.”
Naomi still works closely with produce, as she now supports agency partner programs in scheduling and maintaining fresh produce drops. Each summer, our agency partners have the opportunity to supplement their normal distributions with on-site produce drops. These drops provide millions of pounds of fresh, wholesome food to hungry Minnesotans.
Naomi said that her work, much like the work of Second Harvest Heartland, would not be possible without creative problem solving, teamwork and keeping those we serve—our hungry neighbors—top of mind.