Apple knows the importance of hunger education and outreach because she knows the reality of hunger. After a series of unexpected family circumstances, Apple found herself in a very tight situation financially. “I was told about Ritenour Co-Care [food pantry] during that time, but I was still telling myself ‘Ok, it’s ok if I’m eating ramen soup four times a day. I can make it, I can do this,’” Sanders remembers.
After a few visits to the pantry, things started looking up. Financially, she was stable, and she found herself at the Ritenour Co-Care pantry for a different reason. As an adult leader for her goddaughter’s Girl Scout troop, she visited the pantry to volunteer with a group of eager scouts.
They sorted food and labeled cans for the pantry. Apple realized how easy it was to give back in a meaningful way, so she started volunteering regularly.
Approximately six months after she started volunteering at Ritenour Co-Care, Apple found herself in a tight financial situation again – eating ramen soup and scraping by with barely enough each week. The pantry director reached out with words of encouragement. Apple started visiting the pantry as a volunteer and a client, all the while educating local Girl Scouts about the issue of hunger in our region.
Each Saturday, excited groups of Brownies, Daisies and Girl Scouts file into the volunteer area at the Ritenour Co-Care pantry in Overland, Missouri. They talk about hunger and what it means. “A lot of them think of people who are homeless, but I ask them if they realize that 1 in 6 kids in their class is food insecure,” says Sanders.
After discussing local hunger, how the pantry works, and food safety, Apple leads the scouts through their volunteer project. The Girl Scouts sort and package food and sometimes stock the pantry shelves for the next distribution. As Apple reflects on past groups of scouts, she says, “I can’t tell you how many times they get done and they say, ‘This was awesome – we want to do it again!’” – an exclamation she is proud to hear.
Through her hard times, Apple recalls what has made the difference in her experience: kindness and respect. She tells her scouts, “Just give everyone kindness and respect. Treat them how you want to be treated.”
Apple shared her story in February 2017 with Maddie Smith, Communications Manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Her personal circumstances may have changed since the original interview.