Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good. Preferably we can be both, but some things come together and turn out better than we ever anticipated.
When Marada was out and about, doing her thing, she crossed paths with the wonderful Taryn, and AmeriCorps volunteer working to get healthy snacks in schools. Taryn had been packing up to 1000 snacks at a time, all by herself, to deliver into the SAD 40 elementary schools. Although we admire her work ethic, Marada offered to help her spend her grant money by letting us pack the snacks out for her in our Vassalboro warehouse.
In comes the serendipity: our local Jobs for Maine Graduates specialist, who’s been very excited and enthusiastic about our arrival in town helped us bring in select local high schoolers, who’d been his students in the past, and were interested in getting some work experience.
The crew of five has been working for us for two months now, most of them in their first steady job. They come in once a week for three hours a day and pack hundreds of snap peas, cucumbers, grapes, cherry tomatoes, and local greens, all for the purpose of exposing kids to healthy fruits and vegetables.
Along the way, they’ve learned a thing or two themselves. As they work in the kitchen, I see the light bulb come on when I explain the importance of hand-washing. I told them they needed to remember that anything their hands have touched in going into the mouths of kindergarteners . . . who says education isn’t fun?
Flippancy aside, when they help clean up the warehouse, they’re exposed to our range of products. They’ve packed fiddleheads for the first time, wrinkling their noses at the strong, wild smell. Their wrinkled noses are an opportunity to talk about the bounty of Maine, the responsible harvesting that costs only your sweat, but generates income.
While moving products around, they asked about the price of our Sonnental cheeses. When we tell them one piece of Sonnental cheddar can run up to $5, they yelp that Kraft cheese is 99 cents, and the discussion begins.
This week, Marada and I had them prepare grain samples for a food show we went to down in Boston (Waltham, technically). As they worked packing up the rolled oats, I answered their curiosity by explaining what a road show is, and what we do there. I shared with them how my siblings and I were first exposed to the world of trade shows and public outreach through the Boston Gourmet Food Show when we were ~12-14 years old, prior to our illustrious careers as child performers doing in-store demos with our father in Boston-area health food stores, selling potatoes.
Dylan and Alex asked if they could cut school and come with us, which we considered for a hot second before declining their kind offer. Maybe next time, we said.
“It’s … the flour’s …
“It’s not white!”
Nope, I replied, not white. It’s whole wheat, it’s not bleached, nor ground in such a way as to make it white. The discussion continued; they reached in to take handfuls of the flour as the girls waited for the line to start moving again.
“Yeah, it feels … I dunno …”
“It feels like sand …”
“Yeah, it does.”
“… but, like, the really soft kind of sand you just wanna sleep on all day …”
I stood amused throughout this exchange, on the other side of the work bench. Valerie then leaned over to me with an incredulous look that Sierra shared with her and said,
“And these are the boys talking …”
At which point the boys caught ahold of themselves and started protesting and defending their statements. I told them we’d have to promote them to our marketing team …
I was most pleased by the fact that they never wavered from their comparison, nor seemed particularly embarrassed by it. Next food show, they’re coming with us as our sales team!
Til next time,