Meet a Food Banker: Abby LaLonde

Abby LaLonde smiles at camera while standing next to cherry trees at an orchard

Abby LaLonde smiles at camera while standing next to cherry trees at an orchard

What do you do at the food bank?

I am the Community Impact Manager, and my team works with agency partners, community organizations, and neighbors in need. My job consists of developing new partnerships as well as supporting existing partnerships by facilitating collaboration and sharing best practices for hunger-relief work.

How did you end up in your current role?

My background is in farming and horticulture research and I worked on a couple of farms and with MSU Extension. I wanted to try a different part of the food sector, so I looked for jobs in Grand Rapids and found a front desk role open here. I fell in love with everything I learned about how the food bank operates, and I went on to work as a part of the Programs team. After working with Programs, I jumped on the opportunity to have more of a leadership role with my own department, and it has been especially exciting to get to do so much community outreach.

What is a memory that stands out to you?

When we first went into lockdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team really stepped up. So many people here dedicated extra time to make sure we continued to get all of the food out that we needed to. It was really clear from the beginning that the food bank would always be there—it was not going to shut down and we would keep going. It was really inspiring and it showed our resiliency.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love talking to our partners that are doing an amazing job serving their communities. We always come back with new ideas to share with other groups. I also really enjoy talking to our clients. My favorite part is going out and talking to folks and actually hearing what’s going on in the community.

Why do you fight hunger?

Food is the baseline for a lot of things within families. Food can be something that brings people together, it can be a source of joy and it can be a source of nourishment and energy. That makes it a vital part of a family or a community. The more we can do at the food bank to offer food so that people can have those experiences, feed their children and support their families in whatever way they need to, the better.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I really like being outdoors. I like camping, hiking, backpacking and other outdoorsy things. I also like to read. One of my favorite places to go hiking is the Manistee National Forest.

What is one of your favorite springtime recipes?

In the springtime, I’m making spring rolls. My favorite is with tofu, peppers, lettuce, rice noodles and a spicy peanut sauce.

Abby LaLonde smiles at the camera while at our warehouse