Student: Kristin Johnson ’10
Program: Community-Based Work Study
Project: Food stamp use at farmers' market
Please describe your project.
I was working with Growing Up Healthy, a Blue Cross Blue Shield initiative that acts as a partner and liaison between existing services, organizations, and community organizers that serve or represent the low-income families of Rice County. As a group, we address various societal and environmental challenges that make it harder for low-income families to reach their full-potential. I was able to help with several of the different projects Growing Up Healthy works on, including Dia Familiar, a weekly meeting of mostly Latino families to discuss various issues their families and children are facing, distribution of insulation materials in Faribault to weatherize houses for the winter, clean up the Faribault community garden at the end of their season, and work towards including SNAP, or food stamps, at the Faribault and one of the Northfield farmers' markets. I have also been able to act as link between the Northfield community and the St. Olaf community, directing interested students to Growing Up Healthy for additional volunteer opportunities.
How did you have an impact? What was your greatest contribution?
I spent the majority of my time working on our SNAP project, trying to get food stamps accepted at the local farmers' markets. This project embodied a wide range of activities, including research on the SNAP program, networking and organizing with the different farmers and markets, grant writing, and planning for the implementation of and education about SNAP at the markets. Through these various efforts, we obtained a grant from the county and expect to implement SNAP at the Riverwalk Farmers' Market in Northfield and the Faribault Farmers' Market this growing season.
How did this experience change you?
Growing Up Healthy works at promoting systemic changes, rather than offering a temporary solution to a perpetual problem. I found the determination and innovation necessary to tackle such issues inspiring and hope to bring such traits to my future endeavors. This experience offered a wonderful introduction to non-profit work, encouraging me to do something related after graduating. My supervisor, Janet Lewis Muth, included me in as many opportunities as I wanted, allowing me to get a hands-on feel for the field. I learned the frequent challenges but tremendous rewards of being involved in such work. I have the utmost respect for people in the field, and was provided a wonderful example of how to do this work well.