Volunteering at Billerica Public Schools Food Market

Becca Story MS, RD, LD| View Author Bio

Dairy farmers and their cows work hard 365 days a year to make sure we have delicious and safe milk.  In turn, they inspire our staff to do more for our communities.

Last year we started a tradition – a staff volunteer day – to give back to other organizations while strengthening staff connections.  This year, we were inspired to support the Billerica Public Schools Food Market, a program that provides a farmer’s market-styled food pantry once a month to the community.

Billerica School Nutrition Director April Laskey and her staff do a fantastic job making sure students are well fed and ready to learn by incorporating Fuel Up to Play 60 and adding dairy-forward items like smoothies to the menu.  A few years ago, she helped launch the Billerica Farm Market to help ensure the Billerica community is also well fed.

Why did we choose to spend an afternoon at the Billerica Food Market? It was a perfect opportunity to see and experience a granted project in action.  Earlier this year, we supported this program through a  grant we received from Greater Lowell Community Foundation, which allowed the Food Market to purchase shopping carts and collapsible crates.

The Billerica Food Market relies on donated food items and donated time by school district staff and student volunteers.

Last month, 10 New England Dairy staff from CT, MA and NH spent the afternoon distributing meats, vegetables, shelf stable items, yogurt and half gallons of milk in the Food Market.  We helped make sure every person received what they wanted and had a positive experience at the market.

We had positive experiences too, just listen to these staff reflections:

“We’ve always enjoyed working with Billerica schools on different nutrition education programs over the years, including Fuel Up to Play 60.  It was great to see another way they serve the community and to be a part of it today.”  – Diane Krol, Youth Wellness Manager 

“It was amazing to see the market in action and I am grateful to have been a part of it. The strong personal ties between the volunteers and students with members of the community at the market was inspiring.” – Kiley Putnam, Digital Marketing Manager

“The Food Market organizers created a really positive atmosphere for clients during pick-up and have a really efficient distribution line. I also enjoyed working alongside their student helpers and was really impressed with how courteous they were to the Food Market clients!” – Annalise Kieley, Farmer Relations Specialist 

For me, the afternoon was special because it reminded me of my professional roots supporting food assistance programs in NH and reinforced the need for communities to support each other in dignified ways. I was so glad we had this opportunity to give back to a school that has done so much for their community.

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