Dallas AmeriCorps Program Honored for Response to COVID-19 Hunger Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for service has awarded North Texas-based hunger organization, Equal Heart, with the Excellence in AmeriCorps Award for Most Impactful Service for their response coronavirus pandemic. The organization was recognized alongside four other AmeriCorps honorees representing the best of national service.
Equal Heart was selected for its response to the increase in community hunger caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its Texas Service Corps, the organization created the state’s first COVID Disaster Response Team. This new team deployed 270 AmeriCorps members to 28 sites working to alleviate hunger, providing 20 million pounds of food to over 900,000 Texans.
Equal Heart maximized their impact through the recruitment and training model that the organization implemented in the wake of the public health crisis. Converting to a fully digital module, Equal Heart was able to identify, vet, and train new partner organizations, actively and swiftly responding to community needs. Over half of the 28 organizations recruited through the new virtual model had never hosted an AmeriCorps member before. The creativity and urgency of Equal Heart allowed them to expand their reach, aiding rural populations that were previously difficult to access.
Now in its sixth year, the Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards were created to recognize the outstanding and innovative AmeriCorps programs, members, and alumni tackling our nation’s most-pressing challenges. This year’s winners were honored at the annual AmeriCorps Symposium, held virtually in 2020. Meghan Otto, AmeriCorps program director, accepted the award on behalf of Equal Heart.
“AmeriCorps members are responding to Texas’s needs with leadership and courage,” said Chester Spellman, director of AmeriCorps. “Equal Heart is a prime example of the ways that our AmeriCorps programs continue to impact communities and change lives. As we navigate challenging times, our Excellence in AmeriCorps awardees bring a message of hope: the spirit of service in America is alive and well.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges our community has ever faced,” said Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32). “Crises like this challenge us to come up with solutions to help our neighbors. Equal Heart Texas Service Corps has stepped up to this challenge, and worked diligently and creatively to make sure the thousands of Texans in need have food and support to get through this difficult time. Equal Heart represents the best of North Texas, and I am so proud of the work they've done. Their impact is felt around our great state and this award is well deserved. I can’t wait to see what they do next to help our community.”
As large swaths of the nation face unprecedented natural disasters alongside a public health crisis, AmeriCorps is poised to respond. While teams of AmeriCorps members deploy to Hurricane Laura relief efforts, more are joining the fight against the devasting wildfires on the West Coast, just as teams remain on the ground responding to the effects of the Derecho in Iowa. Even as they address these arising challenges, AmeriCorps maintains a sustained effort to fight hunger, keep communities safe, and facilitate youth education in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the program’s inception in 1994, more than 1.1 million AmeriCorps members have served the nation, giving more than 1.6 billion hours of service and earning nearly $4 billion in education awards. Every year, the 75,000 AmeriCorps members prepare students for success, rebuild communities and revitalize cities, support veterans, fight the opioid epidemic, respond to disasters, preserve public lands, foster economic opportunity, and more.