Eric Si is the Heart & Sole Manager at Project Bread. Last summer, he had the opportunity to volunteer with Project Bread at Gaining Ground, a farm in Concord. Below, he explains how important this experience was for him.
Good food is a basic right. This past summer, I began to truly grasp the meaning of this idea while volunteering at a local organic farm in Concord, Gaining Ground.
On a particularly sunny, humid afternoon, a few dedicated Walk for Hunger participants and I joined the farmhands at Gaining Ground to get our hands in the dirt. Arriving at the farm, I was taken aback by how beautiful and peaceful it was. There were vast fields and rows of some of the freshest vegetables imaginable.
Our large group was split into two: one assigned to pick beans and the other to pick cherry tomatoes. I followed my group towards the end of the farm, where there were rows and rows of plump, vibrant tomatoes ready to be picked. We grabbed our buckets and got to work. The sun was beating down and I was hot, but I didn’t mind. I was happy, working together with friends to help our community.
While we picked, we got to sample some of the tomatoes. They were the best I’ve ever tasted, juicy and sweet. We learned how to identify the ones that were ripe enough and ready for delivery that day.
That was the most amazing feeling. We were harvesting fresh vegetables that were going to be donated for free to meal programs, food pantries and farmers’ markets that day. You can’t get any fresher than that! Low-income and underserved families would have these tomatoes in their homes that night, providing a healthy option for their kids.
Families of different incomes, races, cultures, and backgrounds would be tasting the same nutritious snack I was eating that afternoon. I understood in that moment that everyone has a right to not just any food, but to healthy food that will lift them up and allow them to lead a healthier lifestyle. Good food really is a basic right.
It’s funny how a few tomatoes can revolutionize how we think about hunger.
Learn more about this summer's volunteer day at Gaining Ground here.