Coming Together to Feed Our Community
When people think of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, they often think of interest rates and bank regulation, but at the core of our mission is service to our community. To support that effort, hundreds of our employees took part in a “Summer of Service” this year, providing hands-on community service during a season that often sees less engagement from organizations.
As part of a professional development program at the Richmond Fed, we got to work on a civic engagement project over the course of the year. Our team, The Adventurers, Gina, Tisha, Nong, John, Leye, Jon, and me, spent a few days earlier this month volunteering at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Kroger Community Kitchen Garden. These projects are meant to help us better understand the people the Fed serves while building stronger relationships with our colleagues, learning and reinforcing new skills, and giving back to the community.
The Richmond Fed focuses on three areas of community service, one of which is building strong communities. One of the central needs of a strong community is access to affordable and healthy food, which is why we partner with organizations like the Kroger Community Kitchen Garden.
Over the course of two days, we cleared overgrown areas to be used for staging plants and equipment storage, harvested vegetables, and trimmed garden beds. We also repaired visitor walking paths by replacing mulch in areas that had been washed away by heavy storms.
As part of the Richmond Fed’s employee volunteer initiative, I have also assisted with Feed More’s Meals on Wheels program, which sources some of its fresh vegetables from the Kroger Community Kitchen Garden. It was interesting to see the role the garden plays in the overall lifecycle of the helping feed nutritious meals to homebound Virginians. While volunteering, we also learned that Feed More’s Kids Café and Henrico
County’s Lambs Basket benefit from this food, as well.
Aside from the everyday physical demands of the labor involved, the support necessary for the planning of the gardens and organizing the volunteers is almost completely funded by donations.
It was not only rewarding to be at the roots of a long chain of community partners who help feed those in need around our community, but it was also a great opportunity to interact with and learn more about the members of my professional development cohort while giving back to the community. One thing we focused on in our program was how groups work together. Prior to our volunteer experience, we completed a DISC assessment to determine our individual personality profiles; it was interesting to see, as we divided and conquered our labor in the garden, how accurate the results from the assessment were.