Munish Gandevia, Computer Science
“I was really fortunate to do a summer, community service co-op that got me on my feet and allowed me to be an active part of something great.”
"I was really fortunate to do a summer, community service co-op that got me on my feet and allowed me to be an active part of something great. I worked with Lowell’s Community Teamwork Inc. under the New-Entry Sustainable Farming Program and learned about one of the city’s great community services, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): farmers produce vegetables that in turn are sold to several hundred customers a week who purchase shares of vegetables from CSA. Each share contains several different types of fruits and vegetables. This year we started a pilot program, the low-income CSA. Area residents who receive food stamps were eligible for a share from our regular CSA for half the price. The program grew steadily, from nine customers to over 25 within five weeks and became an important service to the people of Lowell who depend on quality food at an affordable price. The real gift of CSA is not what they receive, but rather in the action of giving.
This work has been rewarding in more ways than I could have imagined. I got to work with helpful, happy and genuinely great people, and the work has shown me the various processes involved in CSA which applies directly to their business model. From coordinating with the farmers, the raw materials, to packing the vegetables, akin to the assembly process, to the final distribution process, I got to play a hand in all aspects of the trade. But the most rewarding part of the job would have to be seeing the smiles of the shareholders every week when they got their fresh vegetables. For some families who are desperately poor, the box represents a respite from the drab and uninteresting food they are used to; a chance to feel normal again. In this sense, the box becomes more than just a piece of wax-coated cardboard, it is a symbol of good times and brings warmth to my heart as it does a smile to the children’s faces. Every day I was genuinely excited to wake up in the morning, and together with the work, this experience has been a blessing. My co-op helped me to make connections that will transcend a freshman internship, and that has made all the difference to me."