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AmeriCorps*VISTA Members

In 2011, we launched the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps, a very exciting new National AmeriCorps*VISTA Program engaging 46 AmeriCorps*VISTA members across 18 states to serve at anti-hunger and anti-poverty organizations by serving individuals of low-income by creating and distributing comprehensive access plans implementing new projects around USDA benefits; recruiting and managing volunteers; developing funds by writing grants, coordinating fundraising events, and soliciting individual donors; working with farmers markets to begin accepting and/or providing outreach on the acceptance of SNAP benefits; and implementing new and supporting existing community gardens.

Check out the all of the current AmeriCorps*VISTA members bios below!


California




Kelly Archer

Kelly is serving her first year of service at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank where she will be working to increase CalFresh (SNAP/Food Stamp) participation, expand the Summer Food Service Program, and help out with the Commodity Supplement Food Program. Kelly relocated to LA from the Detroit metro area where she grew up. She graduated in 2011 with a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Michigan State University and began her M.S. in Environmental Health Sciences before choosing to join AmeriCorps. Kelly is looking forward to working with the community and learning about food security issues in the LA area.





Katie Batterman

Katie is serving her VISTA year at Single Stop USA in San Francisco, California. Single Stop USA is an organization that bridges the information gap separating low-income families from life-changing public benefits, tax credits and other essential services that remain untapped and inaccessible. These basic resources – food, health insurance, child care and tax refunds – increase the likelihood that families are healthy and stable, with parents who work and children who attend school. Katie’s work for Single Stop will focus on CalFresh and WIC outreach, fund development research, and community needs assessment.

Katie graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a BA in Philosophy, concentrating in Ethics. She minored in film studies at the university and is a passionate amateur digital filmmaker. Katie spends her free time watching 90s sitcoms on Netflix and baking vegan cookies while pondering the nature of the human condition. She has high hopes that her VISTA year will be the springboard which launches her on to a career path working for nonprofit organizations.





Heidi Kleiner

Heidi is serving her second year with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano in the San Francisco Bay Area. She recruits, trains, and manages volunteers to expand the CalFresh outreach efforts of the Food Bank. She also works with partnering agencies to support and expand CalFresh outreach efforts. She also focuses on ways to connect EBT users to farmers markets and gardens to help maximize the health and strength of the community.

Heidi is originally from Blacksburg, Virginia where she earned her B.A. from Virginia Tech with a self-made Interdisciplinary Studies degree focusing on Sociology, History, and International Studies. She has previously worked as a VISTA Summer Associate with Beans & Rice, Inc. in Radford, VA and is always looking to expand her knowledge and efforts with issues of health and food security.





Minnie Low

Minnie Low is a VISTA with Feeding America San Diego chapter, focusing on volunteer coordination and building community support for the CalFresh Program. Feeding America San Diego's mission is "to feed the hungry; to advocate; to educate." Minnie is from Northern California and is a recent alumna of UC San Diego with a B.S. in Biology, B.A. in Psychology, and minor in Public Service in Health. As an undergraduate Minnie worked at the American Cancer Society, the UCSD Shiley Eye Center for Community Ophthalmology, and Planned Parenthood. She hopes to explore more about Public Health and its direct relation with hunger in low-income communities. Minnie enjoys learning languages, exploring farmers' markets, and creating delicious and inexpensive recipes with fresh food from farmers' markets.





Sonia Suresh

Sonia Suresh will be serving her VISTA year with Single Stop USA at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, CA. Single Stop USA is an integrated effort to alleviate poverty by connecting clients to sites that provide tax preparation services, financial coaching, public benefits screening and legal aid. Sonia is working on community outreach, identifying barriers to SNAP and other USDA benefits, creating community partnerships and volunteer recruitment and training.

Sonia is a native of Dallas, TX and received her B.A in Biology from Boston College. Her previous volunteer experiences include working at a homeless shelter, tutoring English and teaching 3rd-5th graders at a summer program. In her free time she dabbles in cooking, food gazing, running, playing the piano and she enjoys a variety of music and movies. She is excited to be on the West Coast and working with Single Stop.



Colorado




Kathleen Ferrick

Kathleen is the new Food Assistance Navigator at Hunger Free Colorado. She majored in Psychology and has a long-standing interest in women's rights and social justice. She volunteered consistently throughout college at different organizations in the Denver area. These volunteer experiences include working as a crisis line operator at a domestic violence shelter, a legal assistant at a pro-bono legal organization, and interning with a domestic violence awareness project. At Hunger Free Colorado, Kathleen will be working on the ongoing partnership between the organization and the Department of Human Services. She looks forward to working with volunteers and expanding awareness about the SNAP program throughout her home state of Colorado.



Florida


Daquan Hall

Daquan will be serving his VISTA year as the Program Leader at Miami-Dade Single Stop Kendall Campus. Single Stop is a program geared towards helping students take advantage of financial benefits that will not only help them stay in school, but could also change their lives. He will be helping developing outreach initiatives and managing volunteer staff.

Daquan is a graduate of Florida International University with a B.A. in Sociology, he plans to attend law school and enter the field of public interest law. He hopes to use his passion for justice and human rights and continue serving the public throughout his lifetime.





Stephanie Jean-Baptiste

Stephanie is the Single Stop Leader in Miami, Florida. She is a graduate of Florida International University with a B.A. in Psychology. Stephanie is a long-term volunteer with the Pediatrics Department at a local hospital, and experience working as a volunteer with children at a daycare. She enjoys listening to music and spending time with friends.



Kentucky




Rachel Brunner

Rachel is serving in Louisville, Kentucky at the Presbyterian Hunger Program as the Community Food Security Coordinator. Rachel graduated in May 2011 from the University of Missouri with a BS in Agricultural Economies and minors in Sustainable and International Agriculture. She founded the Mizzou Mocha Club and has been a leader of Sustain Mizzou, and is passionate about sustainability, farmer welfare, consumer education and community food systems. Rachel is eager to connect her VISTA commitments with her beliefs, her artistic endeavors and her experience working with urban agriculture, youth and groups for positive social change. She likes to spend her days laughing, exploring, drinking tea, eating ice cream, and spending time with her family, friends and Australian shepherd.





Arianna King

Ari is serving her first VISTA term with the Presbyterian Hunger Program in Louisville, KY. She is working to increase access to healthy, local foods in low-income neighborhoods in Louisville and in at-risk communities nation-wide by building partnerships, providing training and resources, and working to build organizational capacity through leadership development, volunteer recruitment, and sustainable funding development.


Ari is 28 years old and was born in Ithaca, New York. She grew up with one older sister in Rome, Maine. Ari attended Brandeis University where she graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Fine Arts. Shortly after her graduation she spent several years as the Operations Manager of a small-scale jewelry design firm in San Francisco which empowered her to seek more worldly experiences in the United States Peace Corps in Ghana. After completing her Peace Corps service in 2011, she spent several months working with goats at the Flying Goat Farm in Acton, Maine. She has traveled the world, and has experience in education, various technical arts, database management and food security, and she looks forward to applying these skills with congregations and community groups working on food justice both in the local Louisville community as well as throughout the country."





Laura Stricklen

Laura is the Community Food Security Coordinator at the Presbyterian Hunger Program. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in Spring 2011 from Wooster College with majors in Sociology and Religious Studies. Laura spent the fall of 2011 working with Leader’s for Equality and Action in Dayton (LEAD), a congregation-based community organizing (CBCO) group in Ohio. As part of her training and organizing work, Laura worked with individuals and congregations to understand their interests and passion for addressing injustices and for making community improvements. Laura studied Transformation of Social and Political Conflict in Ireland, has musical, dance and drama experience, and loves working with youth.



Louisiana




Ivy Summers Davis

Ivy is a native of Kenner, Louisiana, and will be serving her VISTA year with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign in New Orleans. Through their No Kid Hungry® Campaign—a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015—Share Our Strength is working to connect families at risk of hunger with the programs that can help them. Share Our Strength provides funding to the most effective anti-hunger organizations and builds partnerships that bring together private funders, public officials and nonprofit organizations to end childhood hunger. In New Orleans, Ivy is working on collaborations with government agencies and local nonprofits to increase participation in the National School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program and WIC (Women, Infant, and Children). Ivy will also be collaborating with Second Harvest Food Bank on SNAP outreach initiatives. She will expand the reach of these programs by coordinating local collaborations, facilitating the flow of information between organizations, developing outreach strategies, and writing grants to secure funding for the implementation of these nutrition programs.


Ivy graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA with a B.S. in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Family Studies and currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Environmental Health Science with a concentration in Health Studies at the University of Alabama. Her interest is in fighting poverty so that no one child is left hungry or without a nutritious meal.





Callie Stanislawski

For the next year Callie will be serving at Share Our Strength in New Orleans as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Prior to becoming a VISTA, Callie attended The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For her final semester, she decided to study/intern abroad in London. Upon returning to Wisconsin, Callie graduated with a degree in Philosophy with an emphasis in Religious Studies. While Callie enjoyed volunteering at a local food bank throughout much of her college career, she wanted to do more to help improve the lives of others and knew AmeriCorps could offer a range of opportunities to serve in communities across the country. Callie is excited to get to work helping end childhood hunger in New Orleans and is really looking forward to her year of service ahead!



Maine




Abby Farnham

Abby is currently serving a second year in the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps with the Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative in Portland, Maine. She is excited to build upon the projects and relationships she developed during her first year of service through supporting the work of food pantries in Cumberland County and connecting low-income Mainers with federal nutrition programs. This work continues to provide insight on the impacts that both grassroots organizing and federal benefit programs have on food insecurity.

Abby holds a B.S. from the University of Vermont in Environmental Studies, with a double minor in Community and International Development and Spanish. She has worked in the fields of community planning and sustainable agriculture in New England as well as Latin America. Her experience now working at the emergency food system level has instilled in her a great interest in the many factors that affect equal access to healthy, affordable foods within our nation's food system.





Shoshona Smith

Shoshona serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative in Portland, Maine. After completion of a rewarding first year with the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps, she chose to remain in her VISTA position at the Maine Hunger Initiative for a second year of service to her community and country. She will build on the strong foundation of her work with hunger issues in Maine to develop long-lasting partnerships and resources, which will serve low-income individuals and families and increase the health of communities across the state.
Shoshona holds a B.A. in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. She has previously organized around watershed and working landscape conservation, worked in small scale agriculture--both in the fields and on the marketing end of things, and provided in-home personal care assistance. She grew up on a homestead in the Northwest Arkansas Ozarks and has lived in Maine for the past eight years.



Maryland




Clarissa Hayes

Clarissa is serving with Maryland Hunger Solutions, a local initiative of the Food Research Action Center in Baltimore. Maryland Hunger Solutions focuses on three main efforts: maximizing participation in federal nutrition programs, educating the public on hunger and the solutions at hand, and improving related public policies. Clarissa’s focus is working to increase Maryland’s youth’s access to better nutrition through the utilization of federal programs, including the National School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Afterschool Meal Program.

Clarissa is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a B.A in English and Anthropology. This is her second year of service with AmeriCorps, having served with NCCC in the Pacific Region after she graduated in 2010 and realized becoming the next Indiana Jones just wasn’t in the cards for her. She is excited to learn more about community nutrition and public health and how it relates to childhood food security issues in Maryland.





Alok Kommajesula

Alok is serving with Share Our Strength's Maryland No Kid Hungry Campaign. He will be working to increase Maryland’s participation rates in federal nutrition programs with the ultimate goal of ending childhood hunger in the state by 2015. Alok will spend part of his VISTA year on the First Class Breakfast Initiative where his focus will be to increase breakfast participation by utilizing different serving models that have proven to be substantially better than the traditional breakfast-before-school model. In addition, he will also work on outreach for the Summer Meals program so kids who rely on Free and Reduced Meals during the school year can also have access to nutritious meals during the summer months.

Alok is native of New Jersey and graduated in December 2011 from Rutgers University with a degree in Economics. He is looking forward to increasing the participation rates in federal nutrition programs within the state of Maryland and hopes he is able to build sustainable models that ensure kids get the nutritious meals they need year round.



Massachusetts




James Barden

James Barden is thrilled to be serving his VISTA year in his home state at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. His work as SNAP Outreach Coordinator involves reaching out to community members and organizations to fight hunger by helping working families, seniors, the disabled and other low-income people access SNAP. James is working with farmers’ markets throughout all four counties to help make nutritious, farm-fresh foods accessible to everyone. He is also actively recruiting and training volunteers throughout Western Massachusetts. James graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Art History. He also attended Bard College at Simon’s Rock: The Early College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His experience interning for Common Ground, an organization fighting homelessness in New York City, helped solidify his interest in working towards solutions for poverty in America. Since then, James has interned for Congressman John Olver (MA-1), the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, and CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture). In his free time, he enjoys traveling and keeping up with current events.





Carol Dupre

Carol is serving as a SNAP Outreach Coordinator at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. She received her B.S. in Natural Resource Studies with an emphasis on education from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She has volunteered in faith-based organizations in many ways including: theater/music, child care, yard work, food distribution; as well as checking on the well-being of people in her town after a tornado.



New York




Kimberly Floeser

Kimberly serves as the Benefits Outreach Coordinator for Foodlink, a food bank located in Rochester, NY. Foodlink rescues and redistributes over 11 million pounds of food annually to a network of 450 member agencies in a 10-county area in Central and Western New York. Foodlink’s vision is to build a hunger-free community and sustainable regional food system in which every individual has access to nutritious food and is empowered with the tangible skills to lead a healthy and productive life. As a member of the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps, Kimberly encourages agencies to provide an additional service to those in need by providing SNAP pre-screening and application assistance. She also assists Foodlink staff with evaluation and further expansion of the Summer Food Service Program.
Kimberly is from the Rochester area, and received a degree from Union College in June 2011, where she majored in Sociology and had minors in Environmental Studies and Film Studies. She became interested in food justice issues after taking a Biology course about Food and Nutrition, and after volunteering at the campus community garden and café. In her senior year, she wrote her thesis about Sustainable Community Agriculture and surveyed Organic Farmers in NY.





Ashley Francis

Ashley is currently the Food Sourcing Coordinator at Island Harvest Food Bank. She works with a few hundred volunteers and donors on procuring, coordinating and disseminating food donations. She is also currently working on a community garden project.
Ashley is from Elmont, NY. She received a B.S. in Marketing from the Pennsylvania State University, with minors in French, International Business and International Studies. She received a M.I.A. (Master in International Affairs) from the Pennsylvania State University in December, with a focus in International Development. Ashley did research work in Kenya and have traveled throughout Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. Her interests are running and reading.





Emily Winkler-Morey

Emily Winkler-Morey is serving her VISTA year at Henry Street Settlement in New York City. She is joining the staff of Henry Street's Workforce Development center in their mission to help unemployed New Yorkers to find and keep jobs. She is also working on strategies to increase access to USDA benefits through NYC community organizations. Emily grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She came to NYC to attend Eugene Lang College, where she studied dance and urban studies. She previously worked with NYCCAH as an AmeriCorps state member at GrowNYC, where she coordinated the distribution of nearly a million pounds of fresh, local produce to emergency food providers.





Jerome Nathaniel

Jerome is working with Foodlink, Rochester’s regional food bank, as a Hunger Advocate. After receiving his B.A. from the University of Rochester with a concentration in religion and a minor in business, Jerome knew that he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to make an impact on the overall structure and conditions of the lives of Americans from all corners of our society — particularly those who are invisible and/or marginalized.
Over the course of the year, he will raise awareness and establish stronger community connections through special speaking engagements, workshops and outreach efforts throughout our ten county service area. His goal is to draw attention to the issue of hunger in Rochester and encourage community members and institutions to support Foodlink’s anti-hunger initiatives, either through volunteering, donating, forming partnerships or sharing information and ideas to expand and improve their programs.



North Carolina




Gavin Coombs

Gavin is currently working with Share our Strength in Raleigh, North Carolina where he is helping develop the Summer Food Service Program. Gavin graduated from North Carolina State University and majored in History. Gavin ran cross country and track. He also started his own nonprofit in 2010. He has a passion for helping kids be healthy and live productive lives.







Morgan Medders

Morgan is serving at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh, NC this year in the role of Nutrition VISTA. The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is a non-profit food recovery and distribution organization that seeks innovative, transformative solutions to ending hunger in central North Carolina. Morgan will be working on a variety of projects, including developing new partnerships for Share Our Strength’s Shopping Matters program. Shopping Matters is a set of tools that seeks to provide families with knowledge about making healthy food choices on a limited budget. Morgan will also be integrating a nutrition education component into the Backpack Buddies program, and contributing to the established Cooking Matters program.
Morgan earned an MS in Nutrition from Boston University, and a BS in Public Health Nutrition from the University of North Carolina. She is looking forward to using this background to help increase access to healthy foods, and empower community members with practical nutrition knowledge. She is excited to have this opportunity to contribute to the mission of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.



Ohio




David Roos

As a member of the National Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps, David is working with Island Harvest assisting with agency relations and SNAP outreach. David grew up in Columbus, Ohio and majored in Modern European History at Stanford University. Immediately before becoming a VISTA, he interned with Habitat for Humanity in San Francisco. He is interested in public service and anything to do with the outdoors like camping, hiking, backpacking, and skiing.



Pennsylvania




John Lyons

John is serving as a VISTA with the Campaign for Working Families (CWF) in Philadelphia, PA for a second year through AHOC. CWF provides free financial services to over 13,000 low to moderate income Philadelphians each year, including tax preparation, benefit application services (particularly SNAP), FAFSA, among others. In his first year, he assisted in managing Resource Builder program, where clients at the Campaign's 11 tax sites are screened & connected to SNAP and other benefits, encouraged to save for their family's future, and can access fair financial tools like low/no-fee prepaid debit cards. In his second year, he has implemented strategic changes to improve the Resource Builder program, and fostered partnerships with other community agencies.


His primary project, separate from the Campaign's tax operations, is generating a state-wide network of The Benefit Bank (TBB) sites. The Benefit Bank is a system that utilizes technology to improve the process of applying for benefits and filing taxes, saving time and having a deeper impact for the applicant. Benefits include SNAP, Energy Assistance, Medicaid, FAFSA, CHIP, and many others, as well as State and Federal tax filing for up to three years previous. Having secured 11 sites in the Philadelphia region to serve as TBB sites, it is his aim to expand this network into surrounding counties. His hope is to secure the Campaign as the State Affiliate for TBB in the state, which requires extensive fund development and planning.


John has a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, where he became increasingly aware of the urgency for community-focused efforts. He is excited to connect his economic studies to the real-world situations of benefits access, and is encouraged by the reports from his fellow Anti-Hunger and Empowerment Corps service members.





Kiera Westfall

Kiera will be serving her VISTA year at the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. She will be performing a wide variety of tasks within the Coalition including furthering the partnerships between the Coalition and City and community organizations, assisting with grant applications, and developing outreach materials for both SNAP and nutrition grocery tours. She will also be working in close collaboration with the Mayor's Deputy Policy Assistant and the Philadelphia SERVE VISTA team.

Prior to her VISTA year, Kiera served ten months as an AmeriCorps NCCC Corps member in the Perry Point, Maryland campus. She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Louisville and holds a B.S. in Exercise Science.



Texas




Christopher J. Clark

Christopher is currently serving with Texas Hunger Initiative in Waco, TX. He is a graduate of Baylor University, with a BA in History. Upon graduation, he remained in Waco to work for a local non-profit. Two years later, he still lives in Waco and enjoys life with close friends, backyard gardens, great coffee, and a coop full of chickens.







Zelyna De La Torre

Zelyna De La Torre is serving at Texas Hunger Initiative in Waco, Texas and will be working as the Food Planning Association Coordinator for the Midland, El Paso and Presidio region in Texas.
She earned her B.A. in International Studies from Baylor University in 2011. During her studies at Baylor, Zelyna founded a sorority, Delta Phi Omega, which promoted children’s education and literacy within the local Waco area and internationally in India.





Tiffany Gallegos

She graduated from Baylor University in 2011 with a BA in International Studies and a minor in History. She worked at the Mission Waco Youth Center and volunteered at the Legal Assistance Project during her undergraduate years. Tiffany is working with the Texas Hunger Initiative serving as a Food Planning Association Coordinator for Lockhart, McAllen, and San Antonio, Texas. Her goal is to bring local non-profits, faith-based organizations, government entities, and anyone who has a stake in ending food insecurity to the table and empower them to collaborate on how to make their respective communities food secure. As an FPA coordinator, Tiffany is a resource and facilitator to help FPAs become self-sufficient and run by people in the community.





Denise Gomez

Denise Gomez is serving in Dallas with the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University. She will serve as a Field Coordinator to establish food security in Dallas by administering a Food Planning Association. She will help build and bridge relationships and partnerships with government and civic leaders, food security stakeholders, corporate representatives, people experiencing food insecurity, and community volunteers.

Denise earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in the areas of Public Policy, Markets and Culture, and Spanish and minors in Economics and International Studies from Southern Methodist University. Before her current position, Denise worked for a child nutrition program with a local Dallas non-profit dedicated to serving the working poor. During her service year, she would like to exercise her leadership potential and learn more about how to effectively implement sustainable anti-hunger and poverty solutions that empower individuals and communities.





Antwan Harris

Atwan graduate from Baylor University in Waco, Texas in December 2012 with a degree in International Studies. Antwan has various experiences in volunteering, which include Habitat for Humanity, Community Rec programs, and through Baylor University. His current role is through the Texas Hunger Initiative in Waco, Texas is Food Planning Association Coordinator and establishing different FPA’s in Ft. Worth, Lubbock, and Amarillo, Texas.





Dustin Kunz

Dustin Kunz is serving as a Food Planning Association Coordinator with the Texas Hunger Initiative. Using the unique THI model, he interacts closely with communities to create new methods and systems to end hunger in a variety of contexts. His hope is that the work done at THI serves not just the people of Texas, but also becomes a scalable and adaptable model to end hunger and fight poverty in every other state as well.
Dustin holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Theology / Philosophy from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a Masters of Divinity from George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, and was appointed as Corporal in the United States Marine Corps.





Austin Rogers

Austin is completing her VISTA term at the Texas Hunger Initiative in Waco, Texas. The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) is a capacity-building collaborative project that seeks to develop and implement strategies to end hunger through education, community organizing, and community development. We seek to make the state food secure by ensuring that every individual living in Texas has access to three healthy meals a day, seven days a week by 2015. At THI, Austin will specifically be working as a Food Planning Association Coordinator, developing and assessing FPA’s in Midland, El Paso and Presidio. Ideally, this assessment will be replicated in numerous communities throughout Texas and even into other states.
Austin graduated from Baylor University with a B.A. in International studies with a concentration in Political Science. After traveling to over fourteen countries she became interested in social justice. Upon returning to the US she completed and internship with World Relief, resettling refugees from all over the world in Spokane Washington. In Texas, she now turns her attention to the growing issue of hunger in the United States.





Tariq Thowfeek

Tariq is serving his VISTA year at the Texas Hunger Initiative in Waco, Texas. He serves as a communications coordinator working to connect churches and other nonprofit organizations as well as working with print and social media. Along with communications responsibilities, Tariq helps serve as the liaison between the Texas Hunger Initiative and state and federal officials dedicated to working to coordinate and improve the implementation of food policy in Texas.

Tariq recently graduated from Baylor University in 2011 with a B.A. in International Studies.





Shamethia Webb

Shamethia is serving her VISTA year at the Texas Hunger Initiative in Waco, TX. As Field Organizer for the Food Planning Association (FPA) in McLennan County, Shamethia will help develop the FPA and identify and develop key relationships with hunger stakeholders in the community in an effort to collaboratively address hunger issues.
Shamethia was born and raised in Waco, Texas. She completed her M.A. in Women's Studies in 2011 from Texas Woman’s University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Baylor University in 2007.



Utah




Mamta Chaudhari

Mamta will be serving in Salt Lake City with Utahns Against Hunger, a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to create the public will to end hunger in Utah. She is working to increase and maintain food stamp usage at farmer’s markets and to determine the nutritional needs of children in school meal programs.

Mamta grew up in Utah and attended Westminster College. She earned her bachelors’ degree in Biology. After participating in a public health trip to Thailand, she found a passion for public health issues and is planning on making it her career. Working as a VISTA will help her take action and give her experience for her future career.





Alyssa Geisler

Alyssa is serving with Utahns Against Hunger to coordinate and increase mobile food stamp enrollment efforts and participation in summer food programs. Previously, she worked as a research specialist with a consulting firm focused on improving health, education, and economic development in American Indian communities.
Alyssa earned her B.A. in Public Communications and Literature from American University in 2010. In the past she has volunteered for many organizations, but was most involved with Children’s National Medical Center, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and Running Strong for American Indian Youth.



Virginia




Jeni Savage

Jeni is serving her VISTA year in Norfolk, VA at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. Her service will focus around developing and expanding outreach and education strategies geared towards increasing both SNAP participation and the use of SNAP benefits at the local Five Points Community Farmer’s Market. Additionally, she will conduct outreach to and encourage other local farmer’s markets to accept SNAP benefits. She will also assist in expanding the Foodbank’s Produce Initiative/Community Garden project through developing and organizing nutrition and gardening education programs for youth and families in low-income communities to promote healthier eating.

Jeni is originally from Madison, WI. With a passion for social justice, she recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2011 with a degree in Social Welfare.





Elise Springuel

Elise Springuel serves at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and focuses on serving the needs of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. She is assisting in planning a community garden and creating nutrition education programs, incorporating gardening, for use at Kids’ Cafes. Through these projects she will further the mission of the Foodbank to eliminate hunger through educating the public about hunger and the availability of food assistance programs.
Elise graduated from Ithaca College in May 2011 with a B.A. in Culture and Commutations. She believes that food is one of the most powerful tools for empowering people and building communities. She can’t wait to get kids excited about eating their vegetables!



Washington, DC




Lydia Mills

Lydia Mills is serving her VISTA year with the DC Central Kitchen. This is her second year in NYCCAH’s Anti-Hunger Corps, and worked in 2011 at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. She is excited to bring her energy and knowledge to the District of Columbia, where she will work on ending childhood hunger through feeding and nutrition education. At DC Central Kitchen, Lydia will work with the Healthy Returns agencies to educate families about eating healthfully on a SNAP budget. She will also work this summer with the DC Truck Farm to increase awareness of urban agriculture and the 17 (!) markets that will provide SNAP incentive dollars.
Lydia is a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her senior thesis project was a study of how public health education and sanitation virtually eliminated endemic tuberculosis in NYC before the discovery of antibiotics; her year culminated in the creation of a museum style exhibit for the public.





Sheena Simpson

Sheena serves as the Anti-Hunger VISTA with D.C. Hunger Solutions, a local initiative of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
D.C. Hunger Solutions seeks to create a hunger-free community and thereby improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income District residents. Sheena is working on community partnerships and volunteer recruitment and training to increase awareness and access to federal nutrition benefits such a SNAP/Food Stamps, WIC and school meals. She is also doing research on the local school meals programs in an effort to increase participation in the District’s middle and high schools. Sheena is a native of southern California where she graduated from the University of California - Irvine and studied Environmental Analysis & Design with a focus in urban planning. In California, Sheena worked in city planning for three years. As a result of re-planting her roots in Washington D.C. with her husband, she couldn’t think of a better way to integrate into the community than to serve as a VISTA. She is very excited about contributing in a positive way to her new community.

To learn more about our AmeriCorps*VISTA program, contact Amanda Cowgill at acowgill@nyccah.org.