Meet our Advisory Board!
In the Spotlight: Valerie Lane, Secretary
By: Joey Marcacci, Summer 2021 Development Intern
Check out our Q&A with Advisory Board Secretary, Valerie Lane!
When did you originally join the board?
About 8 years ago. This is my second time serving on the board. I run a food pantry in the City of Allentown, right by Muhlenberg College at Central Elementary School in downtown Allentown. I’d been on the board previously, and then my husband and I moved to Germany for four years for his job, so when I came back, I got back involved in my pantry and also with the board.
Why did you choose to become a board member?
Because I think hunger is not charity, hunger is a justice issue. Second Harvest does a fabulous job. We need to have pantries because that’s the band aid of hunger. That’s what you do to keep people’s bellies full at the immediate need, but at Second Harvest you have the ability to advocate for social justice, you have a chance to educate people about healthy nutrition. Those are initiatives that I support, so I like being a part of the bigger picture even though every other week I run a pantry which is very grass roots, so I get to see both pieces of it.
What is your favorite part about being involved with Second Harvest?
The staff of Community Action Lehigh Valley and Second Harvest are some of the most gracious and impactful people you’ll ever meet. So, working with people who care so much about their community is inspiring and motivating. Like I said, hunger shouldn’t be happening. You can’t educate kids if they are hungry. You can’t heal people if they are hungry. Food is a basic need and it’s not a privilege, it’s a right. Everyone should have food. So being a part of Second Harvest you really feel like you’re trying to make that happen.
What is something you wish more people understood about poverty and food insecurity?
I wish that people understood that nobody wants to be standing in line to get food that they didn’t get to choose themselves. People that I serve in my pantry, I’d say better than 50% of them have jobs, but you can’t buy food, and put clothes on your kids’ back, and pay rent, and cover your car costs on what we pay people. So, I wish people understood that people who use a food pantry, it’s not their fault. There’s a safety net that didn’t happen in our community. Minimum wage is too low. Poverty is way more than just a paycheck, it’s understanding the history of the family, it’s understanding the dynamics of where you live, it’s a lot more than just saying ‘oh, they should just get a job’, because that’s not the answer.
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
I play tennis several times a week usually. My husband and I like to ride our bikes. And we also have five amazing grandchildren who live in the Valley that I like to spend time with. I feel very fortunate that I have a life that I can keep in balance between my family, my husband, and my physical health. I can’t imagine not doing something to give back to a community that you live in, that’s just a part of who I am.
What is your life motto?
John F. Kennedy once said, “To whom much is given, much is expected” and in many ways I feel that I have this amazing life, and to not do something to give back to the community, I don’t know what purpose that would give you or what value. I also believe that if everyone did just one small kind thing every day, or once a month, all of those kind things would add up to change.