A family tradition

Some families get together over Sunday lunch. Others host game day parties or movie nights.

For Sarah Woodrow, quality family time can be found at the Ralls County Food Pantry in New London. Every month, Sarah’s grandparents, mom, sister, uncles, aunts and cousins gather at the New London First Baptist Church to help operate the pantry.

On the first Monday of each month, the crew unloads items from The Food Bank truck. That takes most of the day—and sometimes runs into Tuesday. On Wednesday, they return to sort cans and packages and box them up based on household size. Then, on Thursday, they come back to help distribute food to people in need.

Every family member has a task. “I like pushing the carts,” Sarah’s cousin, 8-year-old Adilynne Snodgrass, says.

Four generations working together to share food and bring hope.

Sarah’s mom, Lori Alexander, started the tradition some 20 years ago. A farmer, she was looking for something to do during the off season, and helping others access healthy food is something she is passionate about.

“We know the benefit of nutritious food and were all raised on garden-grown vegetables,” Lori says. “It’s important that people have healthy meals.”

That is a belief she has passed down to Sarah, 25, who has been volunteering at the pantry since she was a child. Today, Sarah works for the University of Missouri Extension’s Family Nutrition Education Program.

A nutrition program associate, she provides taste tests along with nutrition education and materials about making healthy choices at food pantries, including the Ralls County Food Pantry.

Recently, she shared a goulash recipe with clients—and saw success when a woman later said she made the dish and that it had been the first time she had used whole wheat pasta.

Sarah is thrilled that her job lets her carry on the family’s legacy of helping the hungry. “I feel like I’ve come full circle,” she says. “It’s great to come to work, help people and be with family.”