Passion for Healthy Food Turns into Volunteer Opportunity

Sarah Borisky is a dietetic student. While shadowing a Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas social worker for one of her classes, she had the opportunity to experience volunteering at our Overland Park food pantry. Over the years, Sarah had been a supporter of Catholic Charities. Now, she saw a whole new way to give to our agency and those we serve.

Once a week, Sarah began volunteering at our Overland Park food pantry. She had been inspired by an NPR story that discussed how “nutritional nudging” – putting healthier foods at eye level, was a tactic some pantries were trying so people might make better choices.

She went to work rearranging our shelves. Foods such as whole grain cereals were placed in front of some of the more sugary choices. Whole wheat pastas were moved, becoming a little easier to grab than regular pastas. She contacted organizations including the Dairy Council and asked for educational materials to display in the pantry. She also began coming up with recipe ideas using the foods readily available at our Overland Park food pantry.

Every Thursday afternoon, our food pantry receives a generous donation of healthy food items from Sprouts. That means on Fridays, there is Greek yogurt, milk, fresh vegetables and fruit. As shoppers come through the pantry, Sarah shares with them the importance of these food options, especially if they have a health concern. “I want people to understand how much their food choices impact their health, especially if they have a chronic disease such as diabetes,” she explains.

The experience for Sarah has been personally and professionally rewarding. “As a dietetic student, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about people’s actual needs and struggles when it comes to food,” adds Sarah. “I feel good that I’m using my education to help make a difference in the lives of those who are on a limited budget and must rely on the pantry as a way to feed themselves and their families.”

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