Nineteen-year-old Sienna Santer says that while growing up in Arroyo Grande, California, she was constantly exposed to the importance of agriculture.
“So much of Arroyo Grande is based on produce and harvest. That whole sense of using food and the idea of ‘plenty’ to connect with others really inspired me to volunteer. Plus, living so close to all the vineyards, I quickly realized the entire landscape is based off food.”
This awareness inspired Sienna to partner with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County, specifically Glean SLO, a program that encourages farmers and residents to donate their extra produce so it can be distributed among the county’s hungry.
Santer spearheaded a sign campaign to promote awareness of the program among farmers, residents, and schools. She personally distributed about 200 signs across the county.
“It starts a dialogue with neighbors, and it spreads the message.”
Santer attended many of the “gleanings” — when coalition volunteers pick the donated produce from local farms — to accomplish her goal.
“The Congressional Award was about setting my own goals and meeting them for me, not for anyone else.”
When asked about what she wants to do in the future, she stated, “Probably some marriage of environmental issues and writing.”
“No matter where I go, a piece of me will always feel like Arroyo Grande is home. So much of me is invested in the area, and so many parts of my personality come from aspects of the community.”