Darlynn McCarter, of Wake Forest, is recently retired after a career in pharmaceutical manufacturing. She began volunteering with IFFS six years ago, packing produce bags and has since expanded to helping in the warehouse and with Nutrition Education.
Tell us about your first-ever time volunteering with IFFS.
I was looking for service opportunities for the middle schoolers I worked with at church and the concept of fresh food drew me to IFFS. We packed up small bags of produce and delivered to a neighborhood in North Raleigh. It was active yet eye opening which is ideal for that age group. Now that I’m retired I volunteer in the warehouse one morning a week, packaging afterschool snacks and unpacking grocery store pickups. I also volunteer with Nutrition Education, leading Cooking Matters programs for adults and kids, including leading grocery store tours.
There are numerous different places to volunteer in the Triangle. Why IFFS?
IFFS is filling an unusual need in its work with perishable food. All studies indicate that a diet predominated by fruits and vegetables makes a difference in a person’s nutrition. IFFS promotes that concept and provides tools to do it on any budget.
Describe a moment while volunteering with IFFS that felt very rewarding.
The Cooking Matters for Kids classes I volunteered in last summer were with a YMCA program in my community. I ran into a parent of one of these children at a different YMCA event in the fall and she enthusiastically shared her children’s love for Chinese chicken and vegetables and yogurt parfaits and their exploits in the kitchen since their Cooking Matters experience. What a great confirmation that the lessons carry forward both long term and to the family.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering with IFFS?
Cooking Matters, particularly, is a learning and sharing experience. I learn as much as I teach. It is a concrete avenue to teach children, to grow nutrition knowledge, and to make a change in our nation’s critical hunger and obesity issues. For people with both interest and concern in these areas, Cooking Matters is a great outlet. It makes a difference for you and for the community.
What's the most fun you ever had volunteering with the Food Shuttle?
This summer at Cooking Matters for Kids with the YMCA, our volunteer team braved a joint final party session with all three classes at one time. It seemed crazy on the surface but was an absolute blast. The kids competed in the trivia game with their class. The winner got first choice on the recipe they made that day. We created a real party atmosphere but it was the goodbye hugs that melted all of our hearts in the end.
If you want to become an IFFS volunteer like Darlynn, click here to browse all our different volunteer opportunities.