Time Well Spent at Ozarks Food Harvest

Time Well Spent at Ozarks Food Harvest

May 10, 2022 in Volunteer Spotlight

Lona Wait has an impressive resume. In her many careers, she has worked as a space researcher, farmer, math teacher, and programmer. Jobs kept her busy, but retiring in 2010 allowed her the time to volunteer like she always wanted.

Since 2011, Lona has been volunteering with Ozarks Food Harvest one to two days a week, most often sorting and packing donated food for distribution. In addition to Sort & Pack sessions at The Food Bank, she has had the opportunity to visit some of our partner pantries. Several years ago, volunteers were asked to help conduct client surveys, which allowed Lona to witness active food distributions and talk to recipients. “I saw the variety of people who needed food because of their circumstances. There were all kinds – health issues, job loss, seniors. It was a shock to me. It can happen in a blink,” Lona says.

Lona says she is lucky because she doesn’t know how it feels to face food insecurity, but she tries to understand how to help those who do. She particularly appreciates the high-quality food that the pantries receive from The Food Bank. She explains, “We have high criteria for what goes through to agencies when we sort donations, so I have hope that I’m helping somehow.”

In any work she does, Lona enjoys variety and a sense of accomplishment. Ozarks Food Harvest provides both by offering many different ways to support our community and volunteer. The Sort & Pack sessions keep Lona moving with enjoyable tasks and good company, and she leaves every shift satisfied that she has spent her time well.

Lona’s preference for variety extends to knowledge as well. Many of Lona’s careers required specialized expertise, but retirement has given her the flexibility to learn new skills that benefit the community. In addition to Ozarks Food Harvest, Lona volunteers for the community gardens, the costume department at Springfield Little Theater, Quilts of Valor, and Friends of the Library.

If you are thinking about donating your time for a good cause, Lona has this advice, “I encourage others to volunteer somewhere. The benefit for me has been tremendous. It’s hard to get a variety of knowledge when you have to specialize for a job, but I’ve learned a lot from volunteering.”

Lona’s generosity is reflected in her impact on local organizations. Ozarks Food Harvest is grateful that she has chosen to spend her time helping us Transform Hunger into Hope. She is a true Hunger Hero.

To learn more about how you can be a Hunger Hero like Lona, visit .