Celebrating the Close of Another Successful AmeriCorps VISTA Year

August 23, 2019

Since 2017 the Alliance to End Hunger has been implementing an AmeriCorps VISTA program aimed at enabling communities across the country to respond to issues of hunger in their communities. With another service year coming to a close for many of the Alliance’s VISTAs, there are many success stories and accomplishments to be recognized. Over the past year, a group of hardworking individuals served at nine of our Hunger Free Communities partner sites across the country, with the goal of increasing the abilities of these coalitions to meet community needs. In their relatively short period of service, they were able to institute 45 new business practices, recruit over 500 volunteers, and raise over $325,000 in cash and in-kind resources. The Alliance estimates that their efforts led to an improvement in food security for at least 1,721 people.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee Mobile Food Pantry Distribution (Courtesy: SHFBNT)

Many VISTAs developed their own programs and projects. Some directed their attention to specific vulnerable populations, such as immigrants, seniors, and single mothers. One VISTA focused on assisting veterans – reaching out to several different veteran agencies across eight counties to help establish new food pantries and educate veterans about nutritional assistance programs they may be eligible for. In another case, a VISTA coordinated with local businesspeople to help get a new grocery store established in an area with residents lacking access to nutritious food. In this case, the VISTA stated that “This is an extremely exciting time and so glad I’m here to be a part of the beginning stages of finally getting a grocery store here!”

The Hall Hunger Initiative team with Latinx Community Members in Dayton, Ohio for a Posada organized by an AmeriCorps VISTA member.

The communities were not the only ones feeling the effects of their work. Several of the VISTAs acknowledged the impact their service has had on themselves. One said in a reflection of their year of service, “As I write this, I am tearing up. I truly enjoyed my time here and I firmly believe that serving as a VISTA was an imperative milestone in my life. Here is where I learned many life lessons. It allowed me to grow and to find myself in the process. I am thankful for this experience and will do my best to give it my all in my last month of service.”

As this year of service comes to a close, the Alliance congratulates the AmeriCorps VISTAs for their extraordinary and impactful work, and is excited to see where their skills, experience, and dedication take them next. Some will continue to serve their country through roles in the federal government, while others have been so inspired by the work at their Hunger Free Community sites that they decided to continue with their groups for another year.  Wherever these passionate individuals end up, they have the potential to make real impacts for the common good in their communities for years to come.

THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR VISTAS!

Anita Mills-Barry | Hunger Free Oklahoma | Tulsa, OK

Jessi Stevens | Second Harvest Foodbank of Northeast Tennessee | Kingsport, TN

Kelsey Litzenberger | Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger | Tampa, FL

Marion Ware | Feeding America of Southwest Virginia | Salem, VA

Olivia Brown | Hunger Free Alexandria | Alexandria, VA

Phillip Robinette | Second Harvest Foodbank of Northeast Tennessee | Kingsport, TN

Quinn Fagan | Montgomery County Food Council | Rockville, MD

Stephanie Patino-Garfias | Hall Hunger Initiative | Dayton, OH

Zuri Thompson | Northwest Food Partners Network, La Casa Norte | Chicago, IL