Name and initiating chapter:
Kimberly Prendergast, Beta Xi—Purdue University
How did you end up working for Feeding America?
Since my undergraduate days at Purdue University, when I was an Alpha Gam, I have been interested in promoting good health. I majored in dietetics and after graduation I moved to Boston and worked as a dietitian at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital. It was there that I recognized the impact of hunger on health. The patients I was counseling, many who were living with diabetes, were unable to afford a healthy diet. This lack of access to nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables, was literally making them sicker, wasn’t helping their diabetes control and leading to complications like kidney disease and eye problems.
Since then, I’ve been working to support the idea of food as medicine. I pursued a master’s degree in public policy and for nearly 18 years, I have worked for Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger organization and network of food banks. I’ve worked on federal and state policy issues, including supporting outreach for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP -formerly known as Food Stamps), as well as supporting food banks with programming to expand Community Kitchens and food bank/healthcare partnerships to assure that local communities have access to healthy food. It’s gratifying to work for an organization that is having an impact on the lives of more than 40 million Americans.
Why are you passionate about fighting hunger?
I’m passionate about this issue on two levels. Hunger is both a social justice issue and a health issue. I believe all people deserve access to healthy foods-we need to ensure children have a healthy diet so they can grow, succeed in school and thrive as citizens of our communities. I also believe in the power of food as medicine-by focusing on assuring that individuals and families can afford a healthy diet, we are addressing a very important root cause of poor health.
Where can chapter sisters go to get involved / find more information in their communities?
Sisters can learn more about hunger and find Feeding America food banks throughout the country by visiting feedingamerica.org.
There they can read more about this issue of hunger, find a local food bank to volunteer or donate food or money to support this important cause. They can also visit hungerandhealth.org and click on “Get Involved” to learn about ways to support our work.
What are your thoughts on our new philanthropic focus?
I couldn’t be more excited about Alpha Gamma Delta’s new philanthropic focus, because it aligns so well with my professional work. The research that we’ve conducted shows that hunger puts people at a higher risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Living in a household without access to nutritious food makes it nearly impossible to manage a challenging disease like diabetes, where food choices are so important.
It’s exciting for me to see that Alpha Gam is not turning to a totally new issue, but rather broadening the focus of our philanthropic efforts ensuring that people can access the healthy food they need to prevent and manage diseases like diabetes. With diabetes at an epidemic level in our country, Alpha Gamma Delta’s new philanthropic focus supports organizations whose work addresses an underlying cause of that disease-to me that feels like a terrific use of our energy and our resources.
Why are you excited for Alpha Gams fighting hunger?
I’m excited about Alpha Gams fighting hunger because it introduces all our chapters and sisters to the important issue of hunger in our country. Fighting hunger, and ensuring people have access to nutritious foods, so they can live a healthy life, is a worthwhile cause we can all do something about.
We are always seeking stories and knowledge from our sisters related to our philanthropic cause to share on social media, in print materials and in future video. Do you have a unique experience you want to share? Or maybe an idea that sisters could learn from to fight hunger? Tell us your thoughts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.