During AmeriCorps Week, we’d like to spotlight the three AmeriCorps members who have made their mark at Foodlink within the past year.
Foodlink hosts AmeriCorps members each year to help with their nutrition education (through Cooking Matters) and food access (through the Curbside Market, Urban Farm Stands and Garden Project) programs throughout its service area. Saharra Malloy and Heidi Riegel joined our Cooking Matters team in November, while Eric Lintala began as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in August.
Cooking Matters is one of Foodlink’s three main Nutrition Education programs. It helps families shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget, as part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Throughout the year, AmeriCorps members coordinate Cooking Matters courses for kids, teens, families and parents throughout Rochester. On any given day, they are organizing cooking equipment and supplies, planning lessons, shopping for food for recipes and helping to teach the courses with a team of volunteers.
Saharra grew up in Rochester and has a passion for the culinary arts. She recently helped to carry out a Cooking Matters at the Store event in Rochester as part of National Nutrition Month, reaching over 65 people to show them simple ways to eat healthier on a budget while shopping at a grocery store. Seeing as she loves to cook, she sees her term as an opportunity to explore a career in the culinary arts.
Heidi graduated from Roberts Wesleyan this past year and sees her term of service as an opportunity to connect with the participants in classes and expose them to new foods and ways of preparing healthy meals. She loves to introduce participants to new fruits and vegetables and to see their reactions when they realize they like them. Her hope is to take what she learns during her year of service and apply it toward a career in social work.
“Foodlink is so appreciative of the efforts of our AmeriCorps members, adding capacity to our programs and giving back in such a big way,” said Alyssa VanValkenburg, Foodlink’s Nutrition Education Manager.
Eric has made significant contributions at Foodlink in the last seven months with our food access team. One of his biggest undertakings was recruiting and managing dozens of volunteers for our Curbside Market program. He also planned and hosted a focus group with our most loyal volunteers in January. Eric also shoulders the social media responsibilities for Curbside, organizes plenty of data associated with our food access programs and has contributed to the success of numerous projects.
“Eric has been a crucial member of the team,” said Nathaniel Mich, Community Programs Coordinator at Foodlink. “He’s grown our Curbside and Urban Farm volunteer base, increased efficiencies across programs and cultivated new community partnerships. Thanks to Eric, our programs are stronger, smoother and more sustainable, with a clear path for continued growth.”
More than 80,000 Americans join AmeriCorps each year to tackle various issues and problems all across the country. They help with affordable housing, hunger, education, disaster relief, economic development and more. Members spend about three months to a year dedicated to a specific role.
More than 1 million people have served with AmeriCorps since 1994, and have contributed more than 1.4 billion hours of service. Last year, 21,600 sites hosted AmeriCorps members.
Learn more about AmeriCorps at AmeriCorps.gov.