Interview by program assistant Kat Lane

Annie Storrs is a former Mission Prep School student and enthusiastic gleaner. She is a current student at University of Oregon studying International Relations with minors in Food Studies and Non-profit Management. We interviewed Annie for our Knowledge Empowers newsletter and she told us about how her early experiences with GleanSLO influenced her choices in education and her career trajectory. We love to hear about how knowledge of the local food system encourages young people to pursue futures in sustainability and investment in local agriculture!

KL: Where are you currently living and where are you sheltering in place?
AS: I am back home at my parent’s in SLO taking online classes at University of Oregon.

KL: How did you find out about GSLO and when did you start gleaning?
AS: When I was a Mission Prep student, I had to fulfill community service requirements and Glean SLO was my first choice as a sophomore in high school. My first glean was in the Oceano area and I think it was broccoli. From that glean, I was completely hooked. I gleaned 2-3 times a month and would always be the person rallying my classmates at mission to glean.

KL: What was your knowledge of food waste in SLO before GSLO?
AS: Coming in I didn’t know much, I didn’t think about food waste as a sophomore in high school. The harvests made me realize how much goes to waste because of the first hand experience of watching the pounds of “unwanted” food piling up on a glean. Then knowing that all the food goes back to the food bank and then to hungry people– it feels like you’re easily bridging the gap and seeing where food actually comes from. I actually took a food studies minor because of glean slo and I’m picking up a non-profit minor as well. I feel like there are so many great solutions out there for combating food waste but people just aren’t aware or educated about it. I feel like I want to dedicate my life to reducing food waste.

KL: How do you think learning about local food systems and food waste and ways to mitigate it empowers people?
AS: Through nonprofits and organizations like glean!— it is such a great opportunity for a community to come together but also to learn more about problems within the community that people don’t know about. I feel like Glean takes a root problem approach. You get down to the roots of food waste but you also get to know other people in your community. I actually couldn’t believe that I was learning about food waste in my SLO as a sophomore in high school! I was like “they should be talking about this in elementary school so people grow up caring!” In terms of community empowerment, it’s an activity that you can do at any age. Whenever I go, I see the whole community come together helping out and having fun while doing it. It’s super empowering to see where your food comes from and then you get to take some home with you.

KL: How has your work with Glean and your education changed your behavior personally?
AS: Through my experience and insight, I have seen a difference in my life and in my family’s too. My family and I are always working hard to consume every single thing that we buy and make. I have a personal commitment to be as close to no waste as possible.

KL: How would you like to see things change locally?
AS: I think in both SLO and Eugene, there are great community efforts and organizations working together to combat this, but so many people don’t think about hunger as being a problem at all. Like it’s people we know, people on campus. Through my education so far I have learned so much and want to show people that you can do your part through not wasting food, but you can also donate time to do something like go gleaning.