A Summer Working at TABLE – with Callie Barnard
In the fall of 2019, I began applying to internships in government affairs and political consulting in Washington, D.C. for the following summer. As a political science major and entrepreneurship minor, I needed a summer-long internship to gain experience in my field of interest and finish one of my remaining Shuford Program requirements.
However, at the beginning of March, I was lost. My semester abroad in Barcelona, Spain got canceled due to COVID-19, and I was quickly put on an airplane back to my home in North Carolina. It seemed like every morning after coming back to the United States I received a new email stating that the internship program at __ was not happening anymore. I came to the conclusion that this summer was going to look a lot different than I had expected.
I have always had a passion for public service, and figured that my strengths would be best suited giving my time and energy to a nonprofit in need of help this summer. I reached out to many organizations both in my hometown and in Chapel Hill and was met with enthusiasm from nonprofits seeking extra help for the summer. COVID has impacted so many people in negative ways, but especially children who rely on meals from school each day. TABLE is a nonprofit organization that provides hunger relief and nutrition education services to children living in Orange County, NC. Over 30% of children in Orange County are considered at-risk for hunger. Each week, TABLE delivers bags of nonperishables and fresh produce to hungry children in Chapel Hill and surrounding areas, usually delivering to a few schools where the food is then distributed. I have volunteered at TABLE since my freshman year, and knew that the organization was still feeding over 650 children a week even though they could not deliver the bags to schools. Instead, they are delivering straight to the children’s doorsteps, which has created a huge need for volunteers. I decided to move back to Chapel Hill in June and begin an internship at TABLE.
Starting the internship, I had no idea what I would be doing on a daily basis. I ended up learning so much about nonprofit management and donor relations and strengthened my problem solving, leadership, and adaptability skills. Through leading a fresh food bagging shift each Tuesday and Thursday, I was able to oversee over 675 bags of food being packed, loaded, and delivered each week by volunteers. When there was a need for delivery drivers, I went on routes to deliver the food to children’s homes. This was the most meaningful experience of the internship, as I could see firsthand how impactful TABLE’s work is for the community. Each day, I managed incoming donations from partnerships with local businesses, farms, and community members. I also helped create a nutrition education curriculum to be included in the bags of food with activities and recipes for the kids and assisted with grant-writing for emergency funding for the organization. Using skills learned from my classes in the Shuford Program, I was able to use innovative thinking to solve problems and help TABLE achieve their goals.
While my internship ended in August, I saw the need for fall shift leaders and am currently leading the Tuesday afternoon fresh food bagging shift. I look forward to further serving my community this fall. If you are interested in volunteering at TABLE, visit www.tablenc.org!