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Five More Questions with Ally Barbaro

Ally Barbaro’s AmeriCorps position as the Hunger Free Alexandria coordinator ends in September, and she is seeking a career in the nonprofit sector (photo courtesy of Ally Barbaro).

ALEXANDRIA, VA – On Wednesday you heard Ally Barbaro answer “10 Questions” from Z-TV guest host Jane Hess Collins about herself, her work with Hunger Free Alexandria, and how Alexandrians can get involved in our great city during our Z-TV LIVE! show. But do you know what food Ally hated as a kid? Find out that and more:

“They are unstoppable!” (Who is Ally talking about? Read below):

  1. Have you met any families or people who needed meals that changed your life in particular?

I can’t think of anyone in particular but sometimes during meal distribution you would see older kids grabbing bags of food for their families. It always impacted me when middle or high school kids would take on that burden for their families. Any time I see kids on their own like that,  that would be touching to me and a reminder of the issue we’re working to solve.

  1. Do you have any stories about any of the kids or people you met doing this work?

I’ve been amazed by the people who work at ALIVE, especially Ann [Patterson, food program director] and Jennifer [Ayers, executive director]. My position doesn’t have an office and I’ve been working out of their office. They both welcomed me in and helped me understand the food landscape. The work they’ve done throughout the pandemic has blown me away. They are unstoppable! They have quadrupled the food distribution in this community. It was awesome getting to know them and watch them work.

Ally decided to join AmeriCorps after volunteering with Camp Kesem GW as a student at George Washington University (photo courtesy of Ally Barbaro).
  1. How can parents help their kids learn about and appreciate food?

I wasn’t exposed to the value of food until I was older. Two things come to mind. First, teach kids that everything you eat comes from the earth. Food involves so much labor, time, sunlight, earth, and water. I think kids can grasp that concept but they need to be taught this. Some schools have community gardens and that’s a great way to remind them where food comes from.

Second, bring your kids along if you volunteer at a meal program or food pantry, as long as the organization allows kids to participate. Kids are smart and they will grasp any opportunity to help.

  1. You graduated from George Washington University in 2019. What was it like when your friends and peers had a virtual graduation this year?

It was weird. My friends and I worked so hard in college and at graduation we could officially say, “We did it.” Now it’s this weird limbo thing. It feels less clear and it made me feel grateful that I got to have that closure.

  1. Were there any foods you hated as a kid but like now?

It’s a broad category but when I was a kid I refused to eat seafood. I was afraid of it. And that’s dumb because I grew up on Long Island. Now I’ll try any seafood that crosses my path and I typically enjoy it. But when I was a kid I thought it was gross because it came from the ocean.


RELATED: More Interviews in the Five Questions Series

Jane Collins

Jane Hess Collins is a communications consultant and coach, and holds a masters’ degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. She is the founder and executive director of Heard, an Alexandria-based nonprofit that teaches life skills disguised as art to underserved populations. She retired from the United States Air Force in 2009.

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