An Internship Experience that Couldn’t Be Bought

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December 15, 2017 By: JT Pinther Category: SHH News

Kim doesn’t usually spend much time watching the news in the early evenings of summer. She prefers to be outside, enjoying the longer daylight and warmer weather. But this particular night, Kim caught the evening news.

She watched a segment featuring an international food organization that addresses food on a global scale. The message of the news story really resonated with Kim. She told us about how the organization was spending time in refugee camps, and they set up mini grocery stores. “Instead of making meals for people,” Kim said, “they handed out vouchers. [Buying their own food] gave these folks a sense of normalcy in a huge, transitional time in their lives.”

After watching the program, Kim was moved to take action. “I thought, I’d love to do something like that in my life—the idea of helping people with their food needs was on my mind.”

A Minnesota native, Kim lived in Mankato at the time, and the refugee camp featured on the news was pretty far from home. But she knew hunger didn’t just affect individuals far away. She quit her job of 25 years on a leap of faith, and she pursued work in hunger relief.

Kim wasn’t sure where to start. But by chance (or by fate?), Kim met an employee from Second Harvest Heartland. Kim learned about volunteering opportunities, and soon enough, she was introduced to Tina, one of Second Harvest Heartland’s SNAP Outreach Specialists.

By the fall, Kim began an internship with Second Harvest Heartland.

SNAP Outreach Interns visit food shelves, events and other partner programs and spend time connecting with families and individuals to help provide resources to additional food help. If they were interested in learning more, Kim would help teach them a little about SNAP, a program that helps millions of people get on their feet and still have more access to healthy and fresh foods.

 “There are people who fall through the cracks,” Kim said of the individuals she met. “A few cases I felt like their safety net. I met a mom of four or five kids, and one of the kids was really sick—one of their medicines for asthma was $1,000 per month, and she wasn’t getting help. She didn’t know she could. I saw a weight lifted off of her shoulders to get groceries in this way.”

Internships pay a small stipend, but Kim said sometimes experiences can’t be bought. “You are making a difference in somebody’s life,” Kim said of her internship. “Sometimes I couldn’t sign somebody up because they weren’t eligible, but you could tell they were at least grateful to tell their story—food is just one story of many. If nothing else, it was just about opening up my heart to hear them.”

Since her internship in fall 2016, Kim moved to Chicago to study in seminary. Her internship with Second Harvest Heartland, Kim said, is going to directly help her future in ministry.

“It’s a big world out there. The preparation for the diversity, stretching me out of my introvert box is going to help. It was worth it—I would have done it for nothing. What I gained from my internship, there is no amount of money that could have bought what I got from this experience.”


Thanks Kim for being part of the Second Harvest Heartland team! Are you or someone you know looking for a learning opportunity that will make a difference? Check out our open positions!


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