People in Your Neighborhood: La Jolla students volunteer to provide meals to the needy
Stirred to help area families at risk of going hungry, two local high school students are leading an organization to deliver food to those who need it most.
Abigail Holman, 16, and Bianca Wong, 17, both juniors at La Jolla Country Day School, are president and vice president, respectively, of Serving Spoons, a nonprofit established in 2009.
The mission of Serving Spoons is to prepare and deliver healthy meals to families in need, according to its website, servingspoons.org.
“If we can help people so that dinner the next night is no longer their biggest worry, then we have helped to better the world,” according to the site.
“We cook food and bring it to people who need the food or who are ‘food insecure’ — they can’t get enough; they don’t have access,” Abigail said.
Each meal, prepared by the Serving Spoons team of about 15 volunteers, includes a main dish, sides, dessert and breakfast or snack items, with occasional seasonal items added.
Abigail and Bianca, who live in Carmel Valley, order groceries for food preparation online or purchase them at a store. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the volunteers met monthly to cook at Abigail’s house.
Abigail and Bianca worked quickly to pivot Serving Spoons’ activities during the pandemic.
“Instead of meeting at Abigail’s house,” Bianca said, “we assign volunteers to a specific part of the meal — like main dish or dessert — and then we all meet to divide the food up. Then Abigail and I go and deliver to the families.”
For Bianca, getting to know the families and developing and maintaining relationships with them is the most enjoyable part of her work with the organization, she said.
Abigail volunteered with Serving Spoons for a year before taking the helm in 2018. She invited Bianca to come aboard first as a volunteer and then as vice president. The two have been friends since they met in preschool at La Jolla Country Day.
For Abigail, leading Serving Spoons enables her to combine two interests: philanthropy and cooking.
“I really like helping people and cooking,” she said. “This is a mix of both of those. It’s fun to do.” Abigail said she normally cooks for her own family and often demonstrates a new cooking skill during monthly Serving Spoons meetings.
Serving Spoons regularly delivers to 40 people in eight families, though Abigail said the organization gets occasional referrals for new families via La Jolla Country Day organizations.
In 2019, the girls held a fundraiser through their school to help buy food and other supplies for meal preparation, Abigail said. They raised $5,450.
Abigail and Bianca have added a new offering to Serving Spoons’ deliveries: pantry items. Through email, the team asked for canned goods and non-perishables like pasta and then picked up bags and boxes from donors’ homes, Bianca said.
Serving Spoons used the supplies to assemble “care packages for the families,” Bianca said. “Especially during the pandemic, with a lot of people not having work,” the food items are necessary to sustain them, she said.
Bianca said it’s “important for teenagers to get involved [in volunteering] because it’s more impactful if someone who doesn’t have too much experience in the world helps. They have a fresh look on the world.”
Abigail added that “it can help younger people in the future. We still have the rest of our lives; [volunteering] could help us gain new skills.”
Bianca said she’s further driven to serve after seeing Serving Spoons’ impact on one meal recipient, an 80-year-old woman named Maria who lives alone. “She’s so humble and sweet,” Bianca said. “She waves when I leave. It’s heartwarming to see her so happy with the smallest things. It makes me appreciate my life a little more.”
— Editor’s note: La Jolla Light’s People in Your Neighborhood series shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. ◆
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