Jenn T’s Story – The Purpose of Bountiful Baskets

I was actually at my doctor’s office in between Christmas and New Years. I am currently undergoing treatment for a more serious case of scoliosis with side effects of sciatica and spinal arthritis. I bring this up because all my life I’ve lived with chronic pain. For the past 10 years it’s been very bad and about 3 years ago it was at a point where daily activities became taxing. (I am only 32 yrs old). We got on topic about diet and how eating right would help my condition and I started telling her about Bountiful Baskets and how even though I read labels and cooked from fresh ingredients, since starting participation I actually started feeling better both mentally and physically. She eagerly took down the website information and then asked me why I do it. And so I told her: My family started participating in bountiful baskets back in July 2012. From our first basket we volunteered every time. And then I started training to open a site.

Before all this I felt as if I was kinda dying. Like there was nothing motivating me on a personal level. I lost passion and inspiration. And for whatever reason, Bountiful Baskets reignited much of what I had lost. I started getting more creative in the kitchen. I started canning and preserving. And I started teaching other families in the area the benefits of cooking from fresh ingredients and how to do simple things that seemed complex (like making fresh bread). I found my passion for food all over again. But that was just part of it. I found that even though I was still in pain, it was not nearly as bad as it had been. Most days I could actually keep up with my 4 kids (oh if I had even an ounce of that energy!).

Bountiful Baskets also has become a family activity. Behind the scenes my kids help me prep for pickups on Fridays. My husband helps me load the truck and double checks that I have all my supplies. My 4 year old makes his wish list for basket contents writing in characters unrecognizable to me… grapes and trees with microscopic squirrels (broccoli) are always on his list… (I never tell them what baskets are going to have). The older 2 kids usually come to the site the morning of to help. So it teaches my kids about hard work, about getting out of something what you put into it. About working together and planning ahead… And it makes us feel good to know that we are helping so many people- people who may not otherwise be able to afford healthy food and people with health issues who want to change their habits… wives of deployed husbands who are grateful for a smile and help to their car while taking a small break in that monotonous long wait… it makes a difference to them, to their lives. I have made some new friends whom I adore. We swap recipes and jams and pickles we’ve canned. And talk for hours about food and get giddy when basket day approaches (my husband still does not understand the silly smiley happy dance of Monday and Friday nights).

I grew up on the gang-infested north side of Chicago. You just don’t see this type of community togetherness where I come from… so even to witness the teamwork is special to me.

I feel it’s an honor to volunteer and work with everyone. And there have been some not so great experiences at times… but if everything were always rainbows and sunshine we wouldn’t know where to improve and we wouldn’t grow. I appreciate the hard work and efforts that Sally and Tanya and DianaLyn and Rachel (who I bug a great deal with my questions) put forth. Bountiful Baskets is truly an amazing organization and I hope in the future even more communities have the great fortune of benefiting from its awesomeness.

(Sorry for the novel. Just wanted to share).

Jenn T


  1. how would I donate a basket?

  2. Good Morning Jenn:
    I have to agree with everything you said it is so important to have the interaction with others and volunteering makes you live longer, its a proven fact. I enjoy our site very much, I went to pick up my first basket and volunteered and have every weekend but 2 since I started and have got other friends involved and we all enjoy getting together on Saturday, talking and just having a good time. Our site kicks it when it comes to working together as a team and we are always on top of it. I love our team, WAY TO GO EVERYBODY!!!! Jenn I want to tell you Thank you for sharing your story as I got goose bumps and tears to my eyes. This was a very touching story and I am glad you enjoy this as much as I do.

  3. This was inspiring and I reposted since I have started praying for 30 cancer fighters from several states and truly believe that good nutrition is our best friend when fighting diseases! Thank you Jenn!

  4. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Loved this article! I feel exactly the same as Jenn. Bountiful Baskets has definitely helped our family eat better! Keeps us on track and we spend less time at the grocery store tempted by all those things we shouldn’t eat!

  6. Loved reading this entry. Next week will be my first basket and I can’t wait. And my husband is looking at me the same way I imagine yours looks at you. =)

    I started canning recently and I’m soooo excited about the possibilites.

    I’ve also been searching for a way to “do better”. I have a black thumb and I’m very skeptical that my own gardening efforts will no work out well. So this is the next best thing.

    Thank you to everyone that makes this possible!

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