Abby Mitchell’s Story of Making a Difference for the Hungry in Kansas City
For most of us, having enough food every day isn’t a concern. Often we find that eating is an activity to enjoy with friends and family rather than a stress point. Sadly, this is not the case for thousands across our region who face hunger daily. Girl Scout Ambassador Abby Mitchell from Troop 493 in Overland Park, Kan. has discovered a passion for fighting to end hunger. This 2016 Gold Award recipient has turned what was once trash into treasure for those who face daily hunger issues in Kansas City.
Abby began her Girl Scout adventure in El Dorado, Kan. as a Daisy and quickly fell in love with programs like camping and field trips because they opened her eyes to new things. “Girl Scouts has been a really great experience for me. The badges and Journeys helped me broaden my horizons to everything that’s possible,” Abby said. In particular, the practical badges were some of her favorites. “The car badge was one of the most useful things I’ve ever done. Before I earned it, I didn’t know how to change a tire! Now that I do, I have that life lesson I needed to learn,” Abby said.
When she moved to Overland Park, Kan. Abby found a new troop and met her best friend, fellow 2016 Gold Award recipient, Kristy Gordon. Through badges and programs like the “Sow What?” Journey, Abby found a passion for the complex subject of food. “[The Journey] opened my eyes to the Farm to Fork Initiative, farming, helping the planet and getting involved with where your food comes from,” Abby said.
Once inspired, she decided to enroll in the CAPS program (a career intensive option at her high school) and took a class called Global Food Industries. This class focused on food production, distribution and analysis in a real-world setting. Her passion turned into action when she was sitting in the lunchroom at her high school and noticed produce going to waste. That’s where her Gold Award project was born.
After looking into the lunch program at her school, Blue Valley West, Abby realized that the waste was coming from a health initiative that offered a lunch discount if students added a fruit or vegetable. While a great program in theory to encourage healthy eating, it wasn’t being used as designed. Sadly, most of the produce became trash rather than being consumed – purchased only to get the discount.
That’s when Abby dove into action. The Fruit Basket Initiative, her Gold Award project, has the simple mission of saving quality food destined to become trash and instead putting it in the hands of people who are hungry. Working with Blue Valley West and Harvesters, a local community food network, she implemented a donation system for students to put unwanted fruits and vegetables in a basket to be repackaged. Twice a week Harvesters picks up the food and delivers it to those in need.
The official collection began in early January 2016 and each day she notices the baskets filling a little more. The planning for a program that involved food within a school system took over a year, with Abby having to present her proposal both to the school and district level boards to get approval. These types of experiences are exactly what the Gold Award aims at helping girls achieve!
Through doing this Gold Award project and finding her passion early on with the “Sow What?” Journey, Abby feels a strong connection between her Girl Scout experience and her future career. “I would definitely attribute my possible future career in food system to Girl Scouts and the things it opened my eyes to,” Abby said.
For this young leader, it’s all about finding ways to give in unexpected places. “If we could all, as a world, learn to give to others in need and not be so wasteful, eventually, I don’t think we would have an issue with food insecurity anymore,” Abby said. Way to live a great life of service, Abby!
We hope everyone is as inspired by Abby’s Gold Award journey as we are! Learn more about the amazing work Abby is doing on her Fox 4 Young Achiever segment by clicking here. Girl Scouts really do make the world a better place. If you know of someone who has an inspiring Gold Award project, comment below!