Grantham University Faculty Members at Harvesters Community Food NetworkAs stated on its website, the mission of Harvesters Community Food Network – a regional food bank serving a 26-county area of northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas – is to “feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow.” The group provides food and related household products to more than 620 not-for-profit agencies, including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes and others.

In addition, Harvesters, which is a certified member of the national network Feeding America (and the group’s “Food Bank of the Year” in 2011), offers education programs to increase community awareness of hunger and teach about good nutrition.

As part of our University’s Grantham Gives Back philanthropic and community volunteer program, seven members of the Academics department volunteered recently at Harvesters, and spent half the day visiting the organization’s main facility in Kansas City, Mo. They became hunger advocates, sorting and packaging foods, and helping plan healthy meals.

We caught up with these faculty members to ask them why they chose to volunteer at Harvesters. Here’s what they had to say …

Dr. Amanda CroweDr. Amanda Crowe, Business Faculty: "I had been looking for a company to volunteer with since moving to the Kansas City area, but was not successful in finding a good match. Volunteering as a group with colleagues was a great opportunity to get to know more about a group that does so much. I enjoyed the team building opportunity, coupled with the opportunity to help those in my community who are less fortunate.”
Dr. Susan WalkerDr. Susan Walker, Business Faculty: "I volunteered because I wanted to do my part in giving back to the community in which I live and serve. I was amazed to learn that the majority of the people in this region, even though most have jobs, are unable to provide their families’ basic needs. By working one morning at Harvesters, I am proud to say I became one of 7,000 volunteers in a week who did my part to make an impact for those in need. It was a very humbling experience.”
Dr. Boubacar VilaneDr. Boubacar Vilane, Foundations Program Chair: "It is truly a blessing to be able to give back to the community you live in. It was also a great learning experience that hunger is a reality for many families in the United States. Harvesters, among other organizations, helps families (especially kids) meet their basic needs by providing healthy foods. Harvester’s storage space is about the size of a football field, and the entire inventory turnaround cycle is roughly three weeks. You really have to see it. Just to help pack the food and know someone will be able to enjoy a healthy meal is an amazing feeling.”
Richard WrobelRich Wrobel, Business Faculty: “My reason for volunteering at Harvesters was to learn how this local community organization operates, and to lend a little muscle to help them out. I know how fortunate I am …to not to have to worry about where my next meal may come from. But for many that is not the case. I have donated money to Harvesters at my local grocery store, and thought that my donation would be well used. In volunteering, I had the chance to see exactly how well those dollars really were utilized, and I was able to meet the people dedicated to such a noble cause.”
Michael TurnerMichael Turner, Foundations Faculty: "Volunteering at Harvesters was truly an eye opening experience for me. I grew up in what was often a disadvantaged household, so I was on the receiving end of the generosity of groups like Harvesters whether I realized it then or not. But, I never knew the true scope of their operation and what it takes day to day to make it work. Having benefited from them as a child, it is only right that as a man I would give back whatever I can, now that I am able to do so.”
Fara DykeFara Dyke, Foundations Faculty: “I volunteer for the same reason I teach, to help build a better world. Volunteering at Harvesters has allowed me to give my hands and my time to help prevent hunger! There is still much to do for hunger, yet every citizen has the power to support hunger relief through influencing government policies and giving.”
Greg GildersleeveGreg Gildersleeve, Foundations Faculty: “My volunteer experience at Harvesters tied in very well with a class I am teaching, GU299: General Education Capstone. The course focuses on service-learning and civic engagement, and I saw how that plays out at an organization such as Harvesters. My main takeaway was the service-learning component, in which we learned just how hard it is to buy a satisfying meal on a limited budget. Those of us who can afford to eat out at restaurants or buy whatever we want at the grocery store take so much for granted.”

Dr. Boubacar Vilane

About Dr. Boubacar Vilane

Dr. Boubacar Vilane spent more than a decade in the financial, banking and real estate industries working for Edward Jones, State Street Bank, KeyBank Real Estate Capital and J.P Morgan. He holds a series 7. 6 and 63 FINRA/SEC licenses. Vilane earned a Master of Business Administration from Emporia State University and a Master in Economics from Cheikh Anta Diop University. He then went on to earn a Doctorate in Business Administration at Columbia Southern University.