By Joanna Levin
November 27, 2020
On Friday afternoons, The Farmlink Project team gathers on Zoom to discuss weekly updates, but last Friday’s meeting was different. Team members have been working hard to execute Mission Impossible, the massive project of delivering one million Thanksgiving meals to food-insecure people across the United States. Last Friday, we discussed who would be able to attend the food distributions for Mission Impossible, and for the first time, I was able to raise my hand when asked who could attend a delivery in Washington D.C.
I drove the short 40 minutes from my home in Baltimore to the southeast corner of Washington D.C where the delivery was taking place in Ward 7 at the Benning Road Metro station. I brought only a mask, a tripod for my phone to take some pictures, and my best friend, Haley, who had just learned about The Farmlink Project the night before when I asked her to join me at the delivery. Upon arrival I met fellow Farmlink team member, Lauren Howerton, Impact 6 volunteers, and Alex Sands, the co-founder of the Social Justice League who coordinated the pickup of 3,000 pounds of fresh produce from Moon Valley Farm in Woodsboro, Maryland. Volunteers from the Social Justice League and Impact 6 prepared bags of squash, onions, potatoes, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to hand out to residents of Washington D.C. It was an incredible experience meeting Alex and the other volunteers from the Social Justice League; we discussed our organizations’ like-minded goals of feeding and helping people across the United States as we unloaded bags from the van. Initially, we had bags set up for people to come pick up, but then as more people began flagging down volunteers from their cars, we realized we had to alter our system. Arms full with bags of produce and supplies, we began dodging traffic to ensure that everyone who needed a bag would receive one. “I could tell some people were initially hesitant to say they wanted a bag, but everyone was very grateful,” remarked Haley Reitz about her first experience volunteering both with The Farmlink Project and the Social Justice League.
Though I have been a part of The Farmlink Project team since September, it was not until I attended this delivery that I truly understood the severity of the hunger crisis. Although it was exciting to distribute bags of food and see how grateful people were, we ran out of food much more quickly than we expected, causing the event that was intended to last for hours to conclude much earlier than expected. “Wow, we just ran out of food in thirty minutes. The event was supposed to go until 2 p.m. and it is 10:40 in the morning. People are hungry, people need help,” commented Alex Sands when he realized that the food ran out within the first hour of the event. We saw a diverse array of people in need of food that day: men, women, some appearing younger with car seats and children in the back of their vehicles, others appearing slightly older with walking canes accompanying them in their passenger seat. Haley also reflected on this, “It was crazy how fast the food went but even crazier to see how most people were driving cars, some had dogs, some looked like they might not necessarily need food. Being food insecure doesn’t have a look. People might be able to pay their car payments and their rent but not have enough money for groceries.”
Attending this delivery was an incredibly impactful experience; I was able to understand and see just how severe and prevalent the problem of hunger is in local communities. I am inspired to continue working with The Farmlink Project, Impact 6, and the Social Justice League to help locate, move, and distribute food to those who need it most. We are so grateful to have worked with Moon Valley Farm and the Social Justice League to help feed as many people as possible and hope to continue these partnerships in the future.
Farmlink Project Team members Joanna Levin
(left) and Lauren Howerton (right)