After 13 years working to bring fresh local produce to food insecure families, Associate Director of Programs and Plot Against Hunger Manager Puwen Lee will be retiring from the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), effective November 15.
“I started at AFAC as a volunteer, helping on Wednesday mornings with distributions,” says Lee. “I loved it because of the team of volunteers I worked with and because of the relationships with clients. After a year, I took a part-time position in the Volunteer Department and the rest is history.”
Lee has served in her current role in the Programs Department since 2014, overseeing the growth of the Plot Against Hunger program that she established in 2007. In Arlington, there are 55 of Plot gardens located at libraries, congregations, community centers, apartment buildings, and private residences. She also forged relationships with local farmers’ markets and area farms, who then allowed us to glean their excess harvests to help AFAC feed families in need. Since its inception, over 600,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables have been donated to Plot Against Hunger.
“Puwen has through her leadership and stewardship of volunteers helped create an atmosphere of generosity, community, and a deep care for all our families that has become a hallmark of all that AFAC does,” says Charles Meng, AFAC Executive Director & CEO.
In addition to her accomplishments at AFAC, Lee has been at the center of all things urban agriculture in Arlington. She served on Arlington County’s Urban Agriculture Task Force, assisted Arlington Central Library in establishing an organic vegetable garden which later encouraged the library to open a Tool Lending Library at that site, and worked to help establish Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA). Lee was the first recipient of FOUA’s inaugural “Golden Radish Award” for her contributions towards urban agriculture in Arlington.