VISTA

More hunger-fighting help on the way

Last year, AAFB was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service as a project sponsor for three AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) positions. These three VISTA volunteers are now deployed at member food banks sites throughout Arizona. Each will have a unique job to do as they work to improve food security for families living in rural and tribal communities.

AmeriCorps VISTA members are highly trained, and work on sustainable solutions to eradicate poverty in the communities where they work. VISTA Volunteers serve one year, and work full-time at their host sites.  
AAFB kicked off this project in March, 2018. 

For year one, the VISTAs are engaged in three exciting projects:

In Northern Arizona the VISTA is working in partnership with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Flagstaff Outreach Center to expand participation in the USDA Summer Food Service Program in rural areas. Some of the places that will be impacted are the Flagstaff area, Mohave County, and the Navajo Nation.  This federal nutrition program provides nutritious meals to children when school is out of session, but far fewer kids receive summer help than they do at school through the free and reduced lunch program.  During the school year, the VISTA will also be working to establish food pantries at targeted schools in rural and tribal communities.

In Central Arizona a VISTA is working in partnership with the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance agency services team to develop a client feedback system for rural and tribal agency partners (like food pantries and soup kitchens). This is especially important for agencies in central and northern regions of Arizona.  The VISTA will develop a way to collect feedback, test and collect information, and finally make recommendations to improve operations and expand capacity at rural and agency partner sites. 

In Southern Arizona one VISTA is working with Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona in Tucson to support the food security needs of the nearby Tohono O’Odham reservation.  As the second largest reservation in Arizona, this reservation covers an area of 2.8 million square miles. The Tohono O’Odham nation has higher than average rates of food insecurity coupled with chronic health conditions such as diabetes. The VISTA will use a curriculum developed by the food bank to help promote sustainable agricultural and gardening practices to improve the health and food security of this population. The volunteer will spend part of their time at the nearby San Xavier Co-Op Farm, with travel throughout the rest of the nation to engage in these efforts. 

For more information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. AAFB is excited to support this program and will report on the progress Volunteers are making in their communities.