As our fearless leader, Executive Director Gini Bell, prepares for parental leave, Maggie West has joined us as interim Operations Manager to make the transition smooth for all. Here’s a bit more about her, in her own words…
I am excited to be joining the Farmer Foodshare team on a temporary basis as the Operations Manager.
I first connected with Farmer Foodshare in 2009 and felt immediately drawn to Farmer Foodshare’s work. The model felt like a key missing piece in our local food system’s puzzle, dually representing new opportunities for small-scale and lower-resource farmers and pathways to food security for low-income families.
When I was approached about joining the founding Board of Directors for Farmer Foodshare in 2010, I was thrilled by the opportunity. I served on the Board for four years, including two years as Chair, and learned a tremendous amount about nonprofit leadership from the exceptional board and staff.
Over the last 9 years, I also had the great gift of serving as Co-Director of the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF). CEF provides relationship-based support and matched savings accounts to individuals experiencing homelessness or financial insecurity in Orange and Durham Counties.
During my years of experience working one-on-one with Members at CEF, the depth of the need for Farmer Foodshare’s work has shown up again and again. For example, I worked with a woman named Joyce, one of CEF’s members who got a “prescription” from her doctor to treat her diabetes by shopping for a specific list of healthy foods – mostly produce. In good faith, she went to the grocery store and tried to fill her “prescription.”
Joyce came to our next meeting frustrated, having tried to do better for herself and take care of her health, but completely exasperated, saying, “No matter how I tried to put it all together, it just wouldn’t add up! I can’t afford to buy that fancy food, no matter if it could save my life.”
The inequalities and missing links in our food system have meant that women like Joyce cannot afford to choose food that is good for their health – relegating farm-fresh produce to the “too fancy” category for these households.
I have loved witnessing Farmer Foodshare change this system for farmers and eaters alike, while continually coming up with creative ways to address the urgent need for healthy food for families, students, neighborhoods, and whole communities. I am grateful to have a chance to actively engage in Farmer Foodshare’s work by filling in on a temporary basis. I have so admired Gini and her leadership and am delighted to have this opportunity to support her and this lovely team!