Volunteer Spotlight of the Month: Heather Hammond

June 5, 2014 By: Sara Blair Category: WordPress Import

“Personally, my big thing is being able to connect people,” Heather Hammond explains. At Second Harvest Heartland, she’s found ample opportunities to do just that.

This spring, Heather is returning for a second internship at Second Harvest Heartland. In a departure from her previous role managing events geared at engaging our local business partners, Heather is working with Second Harvest Heartland’s Produce Capture Institute.

With a generous grant from Cargill, Second Harvest Heartland has partnered with 7 other food banks around the country to form the Produce Capture Institute. The Institute researches how food banks in agriculturally rich regions can help tap the 6.1 billion pounds of agricultural surplus that goes unharvested or unsold each year in the United States.
“Second Harvest Heartland cares not about just feeding our own neighbors, but helping other people feed their communities. It’s something much greater than any other organization I’ve been a part of,” Heather said.

As the Produce Capture Institute intern, Heather researches the Feeding America’s 205 member food banks’ need for fresh produce and their current supply chains for accessing produce. She has found that some food banks’ produce travels more than 700 miles to get to its destination.
“We’re creating stronger network communications around agricultural surplus so that the eight members of the Produce Capture Institute can get that produce to the Feeding America network as economically and efficiently as possible,” Heather said.

As with her first internship, the true test of Heather’s success will be getting people to make those connections themselves by creating a sustainable produce exchange and communications system.

Heather is optimistic that her efforts and the Produce Capture Institute will result in millions of more meals for the 1 in 10 children, seniors and families in our community who experience the stress of hunger daily.

“It’s like a puzzle,” she explained. “Everything’s out there. It’s just how it all fits together.”

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