AmeriCorps VISTA Leader Brittany Madison Lends her Hand in HFC Network Capacity Building

April 4, 2018

Brittany Madison, Hunger Free Communities Associate/AmeriCorps VISTA Leader, Alliance to End Hunger

The Hunger Free Communities (HFC) Network is one of the efforts of the Alliance to End Hunger that focuses on domestic hunger relief.  The HFC Network is made up of over 70 organizations, community coalitions, universities, and similar groups that have partnered with other organizations to address hunger in their community from a multi-sector approach.  Some HFC’s focus on the city level, while others address county-wide hunger, or even state-wide hunger.  While some HFC’s are spearheaded by established organizations, many are still at the grassroots level and just beginning to plant the seeds in their communities.  No matter the length of existence or size of the group, each additional voice in the work to end hunger matters, and we are thrilled to be able to partner with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to provide up to nine of our HFC’s with additional support through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

Beginning in August 2017, the Alliance officially inducted the first cohort of AmeriCorps VISTA members to work with the Hunger Free Communities Network.  The AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program enables organizations to host a full-time volunteer for a year of capacity-building service.  The AmeriCorps VISTA members serving with the Alliance to End Hunger are focusing on measuring and monitoring hunger data within their service area; creating or enhancing a coalition of various community stakeholders interested in ending hunger; assisting with the development of an end-hunger plan, all while involving the voice of low-income community members.  The developments that this AmeriCorps VISTA team has made within their communities in a mere seven months is truly exciting, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with even more of our HFC’s in the next cohort – up to 11 sites.

As the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader, I serve as a support for the entire project- from the recruitment and onboarding process, to helping our members develop professionally and plan for their futures.  Being the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader enables me to see both sides of the coin for the work we do- from the daily feet-on-the-ground work, to the day-to-day tasks of behind the scenes project management.  I came into this position having completed two prior terms of AmeriCorps service, and I certainly have a soft spot in my heart for volunteerism.  I feel it is the most valuable experience anyone can gain, whether it is full-time for a year, or an hour a week.  One thing that I and the entire VISTA team bring to the project is a shared belief that everyone should have access to nutritious food, and I thoroughly enjoy brainstorming ways to decrease hunger in our communities with this team.

In my next 8 months of service with this project, I look forward to onboarding more project sites and recruiting dedicated volunteers to serve with them, providing them with opportunities to learn and develop skills, and hopefully, seeing even just a small shift in our food security numbers.

If you’re interested in learning more about AmeriCorps service, please reach out.