Each year, Foodlink welcomes several AmeriCorps members that work with us for the year, acting as stewards of Foodlink in the community and helping to bring our hunger prevention programs to underserved communities in our area. As we end National AmeriCorps Week, we want to introduce you to the three AmeriCorps staff members helping to make our world here at Foodlink and our 10-county region a little brighter, happier, and less hungry: Tom Silva (AmeriCorps VISTA), Helia Zand (Cooking Matters) and Mikaela Bozza (Cooking Matters).
Tom Silva, Markets and Gardens AmeriCorps VISTA: (this is an Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps (VISTA) position, New York City Coalition Against Hunger )
“I joined AmeriCorps VISTA because I wanted to work with Foodlink to use my skills and energy to build bridges between regional food systems and communities that have been traditionally overlooked by the local food movement. AmeriCorps and Foodlink have given me the opportunity to contribute to the long-term successes of programs that fill critical gaps in food access while exploring my politics in a high impact environment. As the Markets and Gardens VISTA working with Food Access Programs, my role is to coordinate and expand our programming through the Curbside Market, Urban Farm Stands, Community Gardens, and Healthy Corner Store Initiative. On a given day, that means anything from recruiting volunteers for the Curbside Market, working with our nutrition education team to bring cooking demonstrations to farm stands, or convening meetings with service providers around Rochester.”
Helia Zand, Cooking Matters AmeriCorps Member:
I serve because I believe in a healthy, hunger-free community. I chose to serve at Foodlink with Cooking Matters, a nutrition education program, because I wanted to learn about the realities of health in our community before entering medical school. The reality is, health is complex. From food access to education, there are a complexity of barriers encountered by Rochester families. At Foodlink, I, and our team of dedicated volunteers, help break down these barriers in a 6-week cooking and nutrition class. We are empowering families with the skills to stretch their food budgets and cook healthy meals. With each class we see an improvement in skills, behaviors, and self efficacy. It’s moments when a child’s eyes light-up after trying a new food or a mother sharing that she feels she can buy and cook healthy foods with confidence that has made my year of service meaningful.
Mikaela Bozza, Cooking Matters AmeriCorps Member:
“I serve because it allows me to interact with *hundreds* of people in my community that I otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to meet. I learn from others every day! At Foodlink, I am a part of the Cooking Matters team. I coordinate cooking and nutrition classes to teach kids, adults, and families how to prepare simple, healthy meals on a budget. I also coordinate Cooking Matters at the Store tours and event days, which give participants the skills to shop healthy and stretch their food dollars at the store.”
So please, help us say thanks to our AmeriCorps members! Their time, dedication, and hard work has made a tremendous difference in our community and we are so grateful for their service!