Sarah graduated from high school this year, but has been involved in mission work as long as she can remember. When she’s not serving, she’s often fundraising for future mission opportunities. She says, “Missions are just sort of a family affair. My parents are involved. My brother and sister help out. Even my aunt, who lives next door, is involved in lots of mission opportunities as well.”
Five years ago, Sarah attended a mission trip through the Society of St. Andrew called Harvest of Hope. She vividly remembers what she experienced, felt, and learned that week. During that week, she learned the overwhelming statistics about hunger and food insecurity and began to understand the reality that there were hungry neighbors in her own hometown. Sarah specifically remembers learning that people can be struggling with hunger and not “look hungry.”
She remembers a powerful exercise called the hunger awareness meal. Participants were divided into family units with “parents” and “kids.” These “families” were then segmented into tiers, based on hypothetical incomes and economic circumstances. During the meal, the food was distributed unequally to the various tiers and families. Some families had lasagna, vegetables, sides, and enough food for every person. Other tiers received simpler foods and lots of carbs. And the last tier received noticeably smaller amounts of food.
These smaller servings didn’t even provide enough to feed each person in Sarah’s “family unit.” Her character was a parent, and she was faced with the decision to eat and address her own hunger, or skip eating so the “children” would each have an appropriate amount to eat and feel full. In that moment, Sarah felt compassion for parents in her community that struggle daily with the exact same decisions. She knew hunger was a global issue. She had packed meals for overseas mission trips and served in feeding lines at a homeless shelter. But now, she was acutely aware that some people have to make difficult decisions like this on a regular basis.
She left that Harvest of Hope trip and knew she had to do something specifically for her local community. Sarah brought the idea to her father about growing food to help end hunger. John had a farm and land, but had not grown food on a large scale. He agreed to plant some vegetables on three acres so Sarah could give food back to their local community.
One season, the weather ruined their crops and they couldn’t donate anything that year. But Sarah keeps on planning and planting, every year, motivated by her desire for hungry people to eat good food.
Since 2015, Sarah’s family has shared more than 150,000 servings of food through the Society of St. Andrew’s Gleaning Network. To Sarah, each new year is a new opportunity to serve her community. She comments, “Having the weather ruin all of your hard work is disappointing, but it’s nothing compared to what a parent must feel when they’re struggling to feed their children.”