Jennifer Jones
Finance AssociateJenny Jones

When did you start working with the Foodbank?
February 2012

Why do you like working for the Vermont Foodbank?
Working for a fiscally responsible charity with coworkers who are mission-driven makes me smile.  I enjoy coming to work at the Vermont Foodbank.   Knowing we are helping to feed thousands yearly and having the opportunity to contribute  my skills in whatever efficient manner possible give me motivation to be innovative in my tasks and to do what is needed to lessen hunger, even if that task is simply to pay a bill early to save money. I am in awe of the energy of the staff and the volunteers both here at the Foodbank as well as the vast Network Partners. I have met individuals who have been working meal sites for 15 years and have been inspired by their dedication and energy. I meet so many amazing individuals and strive emulate them. I guess you could say I work for the Foodbank in part because it inspires me to be a better person.

Do you have a favorite story from your work or an “high point” that you can share?
I don’t have one favorite story since there are so many wonderful experiences: agency visits and Hunger Study conversations are always inspiring; my first charity ride in Harpoon Point to Point helped me strengthen, raise money for the Foodbank, make new friends as well as learn that people like to be generous -asking for donations was easier than anticipated;  helping to create a credit card tracking system with Feeding America’s tech support to streamline work pleases me immensely for many reasons – freeing up CFO time, stopping double input of work, being able to access detailed information easily, and saving money in the long run means more people get fed.

If you could work in another Foodbank department or job for a day, what would it be and why?
I find all the departments fascinating, but what I love doing is capturing moments. If I could do another job occasionally, it would be photographing events. I tend to take hundreds of pictures for friends and family gatherings and enjoy cataloging memories. I even enjoy editing the photos.

What do you think is key to ending hunger in Vermont?
That answer is multi-faceted with education, politics and health. I think the US needs to transform education. There are so many other models of schooling that seem to help prepare people for the work force better. When I lived in Germany in 1989, subjects like chemistry, languages and physics were started in 4th grade, so each year it could be continued and the knowledge built upon, giving an opportunity to truly learn and understand the material instead of memorizing all you can in a year or two in high school. Germany also pays for education through college which would help people obtain higher paying positions and start their lives without massive debt. Their system isn’t perfect by any means, but why not take what works and incorporate it into ours? On a currently discussed education issue, I do feel free meals in school to be paramount so children can concentrate on learning, not hunger or embarrassment. I participated in free/reduced lunch in school and felt stigmatized at times by those who could afford to pay.  Increasing nutrition training to health classes may also help with food choices. It is so easy to buy an inexpensive boxed product that makes us feel full, but bulk rice and beans would add more nutrients and give a similar feeling of fullness. If only we all didn’t feel so rushed to get things done or knew easy recipes and felt confident in our skills as cooks!

Speaking of health, we need better access to healthcare. How many of us don’t visit our doctors due to high deductibles or lack of insurance at all? When living paycheck to paycheck, going to the doctor until it is an emergency falls low on the list because any additional cost is sadly just too much.  If people could maintain their health through preventative doctor visits and better nutrition, our community could be strengthened.

To help move our economy, we need to create more jobs and have individuals trained to do that work without outsourcing. Ending hunger requires complex interrelated solutions. The more we can pull together and combine our resources and abilities, the better we will be able to move forward.  I believe strongly in the safety net, but really want to see movement in lessening the lines. By working at the Foodbank, I am able to assist directly those who need help. Being part of Feeding America assists with procurement and resources. Doing the Hunger In America study every four years sponsored by Feeding America, additionally gives the country the data it needs to assess what is really going on in communities across the US thus allowing us direct information to serve our community requirements as well as enhance legislation.  I hope it continues to help us change the approach to poverty. Ending hunger is a huge undertaking, and I am proud to be part of that change however small my contribution.

Will you join our staff in supporting our mission?  Please give to the Vermont Foodbank today!