At Operation Food Search, we are grateful to our many AmeriCorps members that help us through many of our programs, events and fundraisers. This support is vital to the mission of healing hunger and solving family food insecurity in the St. Louis region. In recognition of AmeriCorps Week 2018 – we wanted to hear from two of our dedicated AmeriCorps Members.
My AmeriCorps journey actually started my senior year of high school in 2005. After being accepted into the AmeriCorps Vista program and set to go off that fall, I was unfortunately unable to go and had to defer my term as my mom lost her job and needed me to stay behind to help support the household. While, yes, I was doing what I needed to for my family, turning down this opportunity has been one of my biggest regrets in my lifetime. I try to live my life with very few regrets so you can only imagine how devastating the decision to defer AmeriCorps was and has been.
Now, let’s fast forward several years, a handful of babies and many, many tried attempts at finding the right career path or the right niche to make myself a more fulfilled individual. Finally, I can say that I’m living a dream and erasing a regret that has lived on within me for over a decade. It all fell into place rather quickly as if it was meant to be. Everything that has happened in that period of time after deferment was leading up to this amazing opportunity to serve as AmeriCorps: Equal Heart with Operation Food Search. Now, I’m sure that sounds idealist, but in my journey, it is absolutely true.
Operation Food Search, though it has only been a few months since I started serving, has been exceptional. Not only have I been able to work with some of the most kind hearted, caring people, I have been able to meet people of all walks of life. I strive to make every day different from the next and to learn something new as much as possible. I have learned so much here at OFS and there isn’t a day that isn’t different from the last. While with OFS, I serve with the child nutrition department. In this department, we do our best to serve meals in after school programs across St. Louis and St. Louis County. These “Super Snacks”, as we call them, provide an extra bit of nutrition that the kids may not have gotten otherwise. We are also gearing up for our Summer Meals program. We will serve at more than 45 stationary and mobile sites throughout the area to provide children with nutritious meals this upcoming summer. This experience has been both humbling and insightful as I have learned how many children are in need of the extraordinary services that Operation Food Search provides.
After I finish my term, which is still several months away, the next step on my journey is still quite unclear but I know that part of it will include continuing my education. I have hopes to finish my either my associates or culinary degree to then go on to university to achieve my dietitian certification with hopes of someday using all that I have learned in my experience here at OFS. Operation Food Search has had such a large impact on my life that there is no way I will forget this experience, the people around me, the great work that continues to be done and will continue until we #HealHungerStL.
I chose to participate in the AmeriCorps program because I am passionate about hands on education, serving my local community, and helping those who are struggling find access to the resources they need to be successful. The most rewarding part of this experience so far has been equipping kids and teens with the skills they need to work in the kitchen while showing them that they are capable of so much more than what they first realized—and that healthy food can be delicious! Childhood hunger and food insecurity have so many different faces, and it’s been rewarding to be able to build relationships with people that face these struggles on a daily basis who are wanting to empower their own communities for change.