Note from LP Staff: Mari, you are hardworking, positive, and clearly a leader! You took initiative daily, and fit in easily with the wide range of populations that we serve. We are so grateful for your invaluable support and wish that you could stay on longer!
I will never forget my time at Leah’s Pantry. As a San Francisco State University graduate with a BS in Health Education, I was looking for an internship that would allow me to work directly with the community. Leah’s Pantry was my first choice because they have first-hand knowledge and look into what is actually happening in communities in San Francisco. Their organization was new to me, I had never heard of Leah’s Pantry before I saw it on a list of internships to choose from. Their description and website made it clear: this was what I wanted to do. I am so lucky to have been placed at this organization with people who are so dedicated and passionate about their work. They inspired me to continue to work in this field and expand my fight for social justice issues. Working at Leah’s Pantry has been the highlight of my college career.
I learned about food inequality throughout my whole college experience but I never had the chance to go into a community and see what it actually looks like. I wanted to see how they apply all the things I learned throughout my major to real-life application. I was amazed to see how many sites this small organization can visit in a single day, trying to meet and change people’s perspective on healthy living. It was truly inspiring to see their dedication, creativity, and willpower that they had for the communities they are serving. They helped me gain my voice to really find out what it is that I want to do and to go for things that aren’t always the easiest choice. They have shown me what my passions are and how to go about finding them in my everyday career.
Through this internship, I was able to work hands-on in communities that were suffering from food inaccessibility, and poverty. I’ve come to appreciate how hard it is for people struggling to survive to be open to learning about healthy food choices. Their persistence against these odds is admirable. I especially liked working with children at the Boys and Girls Club at Columbia Park. To see kids faces when they accomplished something or tried something new will stay with me. It always surprised me during taste tests when kids would ask what they are trying that day and hide the shock when they tell me that they have never tried it before. Even though the kids learned to love vegetables I would get the occasional “Ms. Teacher, Ms. Teacher, when are we making chicken?” It was an eye-opening experience to see how lucky I am and that it is so important to keep these programs going so that every child can experience what a bell pepper or cucumber tastes like.
But one of my favorite programs was the “Feeding Potrero” program because working with Mona, Niesha, Lorianne, and Joe made every Wednesday so much better. No matter what they were going through they always had jokes to tell or stories you needed to hear. They really cared about their community and helping it in any way that they could. They inspired me to always be content with what I have and to always have a smile on my face.
I really want to thank Monica, Danielle, Alex, Loretta, and Jessie for their hard work in teaching and guiding me through my process. I also want to thank the “Feeding Potrero” catering team for opening their arms to me and making me feel welcome; I really appreciate you and learned so much from each and every one of you. I will truly miss working here and the people that I have met.