AmeriCorps Announces Food Security Initiative in Arizona
Arizona Food Bank Network awarded more than $180,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to serve rural and urban communities
WASHINGTON, D.C.– AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism and national service, announced more than $180,000 in American Rescue Plan grant funding to Arizona Food Bank Network as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program’s food security initiative over the next three years.
The initiative, launched in 2020, is a comprehensive and collaborative approach to end hunger which affects one in eight Americans. AmeriCorps has awarded over $2 million in grants to organizations addressing the impact of hunger in their state during the pandemic.
An AmeriCorps grantee since 2017, the Arizona Food Bank Network steadily has expanded its VISTA program from two initial locations in rural and tribal communities to nine current sites across the state. This new grant will allow them to recruit additional AmeriCorps members to support at least 18 sites throughout Arizona.
On Friday, Aug. 26, Jill Sears, AmeriCorps Mountain regional administrator, joined Angie Rodgers, Arizona Food Bank Network president and CEO, and Dave Richins, United Food Bank CEO and president to recognize AmeriCorps members and announce the grant awards at United Food Bank Volunteer Center in Mesa, Ariz.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity soared, but with the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic American Rescue Plan investment, AmeriCorps VISTA has been able to expand response and support for these critical programs,” said Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO. “Arizona Food Bank Network’s programs not only address immediate hunger, but they also prioritize prevention programs aimed at ensuring people don’t need a food bank to be food secure.”
“We are so thankful that Arizona Food Bank Network was selected to expand this program with food security initiative funding. Beyond the benefits our network receives from the work that this makes possible, the inspiration that AmeriCorps members bring to their service years gives me hope that together we can build a hunger free Arizona,” said Rodgers.
“I have had the pleasure of interaction with the AmeriCorps Vista program for almost two decades. United Food Bank is pleased to host another round of AmeriCorps members to help us serve the people of Arizona,” said Dave Richins, United Food Bank CEO and president.
Arizona Food Bank Network is recruiting more than 30 AmeriCorps members to serve in the VISTA program to bolster sustainable local food systems, improve food pantries' organizational capacity and sustainability, expand community engagement and increase the pounds of emergency, nutritious food distributed. These new AmeriCorps members will assist with volunteer recruitment, addressing food access for Native American and older adult populations, and service-learning projects with youth, among other focus areas.
In addition to grants, VISTA’s collaborative approach to poverty and hunger alleviation includes a recently launched learning community for VISTA sponsors to meet every other month to share ideas, best practices and build their network.
AmeriCorps continues to invest in the nation’s COVID-19 recovery. With existing programs in more than 40,000 locations across the country, AmeriCorps is uniquely positioned to bolster community response efforts. In response to the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers across all 50 states and U.S. territories have continued their service, quickly adapting to meet the changing needs caused by the pandemic and have provided vital support, community response, and recovery efforts, providing support to more than 12.5 million Americans, including 2.5 million people at vaccination sites.
Visit www.azfoodbanks.org to find out more about hunger relief in Arizona, including open AmeriCorps food security initiative positions.