On June 19, we said goodbye and good luck to our dedicated Program Coordinator of three years, Jeanine Lacore. Jeanine has played a huge role in shaping GleanSLO into the successful (and highly organized) program it is today! Jeanine is setting off to travel across the country in her pickup truck and while we will miss her dearly, we couldn’t be more excited for her new adventures. We feel fortunate to have had the chance to work with her and be inspired by her passion for all things food and community. Before she hit the road, we asked Jeanine to reflect on her time with GleanSLO for our blog.
After 3 years with GleanSLO I’m having a hard time summing up this experience without going off in a million directions. Where do I begin?! I suppose some of my earliest memories in life shaped my passion for food justice. My mom and dad raised a family of seven children on one working-class income. As a child I remember going to a church pantry and bringing home a couple bags of food that were quickly consumed by me and my siblings. I don’t ever remember being hunger, but I’m sure that my parents worried about how to feed us all. Now that I’m an adult I understand the issue of “hunger” and how it affects a large percentage of our population. I can sympathize with people going through the stress of having to choose between paying for a tank of gas or a decent meal. I’ve also come to realize that it’s not always about access to food, but more of an issue of access to healthy food.
I never would have imagined I’d find such an ideal job. As the Program Coordinator of GleanSLO I’ve had the opportunity to explore so many beautiful nooks and crannies around San Luis Obispo County while tasting a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and have had the chance to glean next to some of the most inspiring, generous and thoughtful people in my life. One of my favorite memories includes picking apples in See Canyon during my first year as an AmeriCorps VIP member. I remember walking down rows and rows of trees so loaded the branches sagged toward the ground waiting for the weight to be relieved. With over 20 heirloom varieties of apples my taste buds marveled at nature’s bounty and to this day I will always be most fond of the Gold Rush variety!
This job (if you can even call it that!) has had the perfect combination of working outside, getting my hands dirty, using my detail-oriented tendencies, and having the chance to hear so many interesting stories from people who share my love for food and giving. At this point in life, I’m fortunate to be in a stable position surrounded by passionate people who also want to create a more just and caring world through the act of harvesting and sharing fresh fruits and vegetables. We all need to eat and food becomes the common denominator that divides the gaps between age, culture, gender, ethnic background, class, and so forth. There’s nothing more heart-warming than to see a group of volunteers out in a field or harvesting among the fruit trees rolling their sleeves up, sharing their recipes, and forming unexpected friendships that last far beyond a glean. In fact, I’ve found a handful of best friends and lifetime mentors along the way!
I’m proud to have been part of the GleanSLO community and the SLO County Food Bank’s efforts to provide our neighbors in need with the nutritionally-dense food that everyone deserves. I believe I’ve experienced the true meaning of community—where there is a spirit of comradery and a desire to selflessly help one another through the simple act of sharing. Thanks to all who have been a part of this chapter in my life. These memories will resonate within me for decades to come, and no matter where I end up I will always be a gleaner at heart!
Thank you Jeanine, we wish you all the best!