Name: Haley Baron
Class Year: 2012
Major(s): Sociology, Spanish, and International Relations Certificate
What have you been doing since leaving Wesleyan?
I graduated Wesleyan and immediately moved to Washington, DC. Though missing my hometown of San Francisco, I loved being in Washington. There is a huge Wesleyan community, and a lot of social and political happenings throughout the year. I started working for DC Hunger Solutions, the local branch of the Food Research and Action Center as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the summer. This led me to a yearlong AmeriCorps VISTA position at the Capital Area Food Bank where I developed a program around recipes and nutrition education for our 500 partner agencies. The year at the food bank led me to want to learn as much as I could about food systems and all of the many aspects that are at play. Instead of taking a full time job, I decided to work a variety of part time jobs. I now work in food recovery and distribution at the Food Bank, nutrition and cooking for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, at two New Morning Farm farmers’ markets, and I support the CSA’s at Clagett Farm, an organic sustainable farm in Maryland.
How were you involved with the Center for Community Partnerships?
I coordinated the Housing and Hunger Program at the Office of Community Service. When I started, the program was small, mostly consisting of food salvage from Pi Café and support to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Over two and half years, together as a team we were able to grow the program so that we were making over 30 food salvage pickups a week on campus and delivering the food to Eddie Shelter, teaching cooking classes at Amazing Grace Food Pantry and supporting their operations, delivering bread twice a week to local schools, continuing to work with Habitat for Humanity, working closely with the Middlesex County Anti-Hunger Task Force on local policy, and overall making issues of domestic hunger, homelessness, and poverty a priority on campus.
What inspired you to work with CCP?
I was inspired to work at OCS because I wanted to learn more about issues of hunger and poverty in Middletown. I had done a lot of work on these issues in San Francisco, but I wanted to deepen on involvement while at Wes. My older sister ran ASHA when she was at Wesleyan, and she had such an incredible experience working with Cathy at OCS, I knew that I wanted to work with her as well.
Do you believe that your work with Wesleyan’s CCP impacted your education or your future career choice? If so, how?
Yes! Yes! Yes! My work at CCP was the driver of my education as well as my career choices. While at Wes, I taught a student forum on Housing and Hunger issues in the US my junior year, took classes such as Cutler’s Paternalism that dove into issues I was experiencing, and wrote about the complexities of Connecticut’s administration of SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) for my Sociology Senior Essay. As for my work, CCP was in fact how I got my first job out of college at the Food Research and Action Center. I worked with End Hunger, CT! while at OCS who worked closely with FRAC in Washington, DC, and End Hunger recommended me to their team. Because I was so entrenched in the anti-hunger community in CT while at Wes, I quickly learned about the career opportunities that existed in this field. I would not be where I am today without the support of CCP.
What advice do you have for any students who are thinking about getting involved with CCP?
Do it! CCP is the best. People often ask me if I miss Wesleyan, I say “yes, but I also miss Middletown”. Not many students’ outside of CCP can say that. The people we worked with in town, the relationships we built, the programs we supported allowed us to feel as though Middletown, not just Wesleyan, was and is our home. Also, not only do you get to work with an amazingly driven and fun group of students, you have the opportunity to work with an invaluable mentor, Cathy Lechowicz. Cathy’s guidance was crucial to my learning and development throughout college (and still today!).
Any last words?
CCP and OCS are the best! If you are in D.C and/or interested in food issues, feel free to contact me!