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Grant England | Volunteer helps fight hunger

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I recently met with a fellow AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America), Beth Macinko, to learn about her work as a gleaning coordinator for Community Harvest and Upper Valley MEND (Meeting Each Need with Dignity).

Originally from Connecticut, Beth’s family connections in Central Washington encouraged her to seek VISTA positions close to home. Beth’s studies in anthropology and environmental studies at St. Mary’s College cemented her resolve to bring positive change to the world.

She was active in food recovery and gleaning in college and it developed into a passion because, as Beth says, “the U.S. has so much agricultural abundance, yet so many people are affected by food insecurity.”

Beth’s face breaks into an easygoing smile as she talks about her work as a VISTA. Like many VISTAs, Beth serves a vital role in connecting people in need with resource providers, in this case acting as a liaison between farmers and food banks. Much of her work involves coordinating and leading volunteers in gleaning projects and maintaining connections with local farmers.

One of the major focuses of VISTA is sustainability, making programs stronger and more self-sufficient. To accomplish this, Beth has recruited a strong base of volunteers to assist in gleaning projects and empowering people in the community to grow their own food.

Some of her most rewarding moments come from Community Harvest’s spring seed distribution program, which supports people wanting to grow vegetables in their own backyards. When asked why she became an AmeriCorps VISTA, she says “I couldn’t imagine myself working a job that doesn’t aim to make a difference.”

Beth can be found at the farmer’s market at Pybus Public Market on Saturday mornings, advocating for her gleaning projects and recruiting volunteers.

Many farmers are generous with their surplus crops, but those fruits and vegetables do not pick themselves. Contact Beth Macinko at (509) 387-5372 or beth@uvmend.org to learn how you can help fight hunger in Wenatchee Valley. You can also sign up for gleans or learn more about Community Harvest at firstharvest.org/communityharvest.

Grant England is an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) with United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties and program coordinator for Youth United.

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