Cullman Fights Hunger

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VISTA AmeriCorps Members Serve at the North Alabama Agriplex

 

CULLMAN – The North Alabama Agriplex recently received a grant for their Food for Life program, which has brought AmeriCorps VISTA participants to serve here in Cullman.  These good Samaritans are working with the Agriplex to make Cullman a better place.

 

The volunteers will be serving one-year terms and will receive a living allowance as well as an award at the end of their service.

 

VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America and was founded in 1965 by President John F. Kennedy as a program to fight poverty in America. AmeriCorps VISTA members serve in nonprofit organizations or public agencies all over the country. They serve for one year at a time to assist low-income communities.

 

In Cullman, VISTA members are at the North Alabama Agriplex, working in the Food for Life program.

 

“We are working to combat obesity and hunger in Cullman County along with promoting local farming and agriculture,” says Rachel Dawsey, coordinator for the Agriplex. “We are working to increase school gardens and school gardening programs, adult gardening education, cooking classes and nutrition, and to promote gleaning and food redistribution.”

 

The Food for Life program was established by the North Alabama Agriplex as a way to educate Cullman County on local food choices to fight poverty and hunger.

 

Cullman has high rates of childhood and adult obesity, like many rural parts of Alabama. However, we also have a successful agricultural industry with several types of crops and livestock grown locally. So, the Food for Life program aims to teach the needy part of Cullman how to best use their resources.

 

For the next three years, the Food for Life program will use five AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to provide educational programming, crop gleaning, farmer’s market coordination and grant writing in an effort to improve the health of Cullman County.

 

Currently the North Alabama Agriplex has two VISTA members.

 

“I’m working on fundraising and grant writing,” says VISTA member Kaitlyn Parks. “Cynthia, the other VISTA we have is working on establishing school gardens in five local elementary schools through the Junior Master Gardener curriculum.”

 

Kaitlyn recently graduated from Emory & Henry College in Virginia with degrees in Sociology and Public Policy & Community Service.

 

“I was unsure about whether or not to commit to graduate school and thought that a year of VISTA would be a great opportunity to live and work and learn in a new community,” Parks says. “I’ve already learned a lot from the people and the culture of Cullman and am becoming increasingly familiar with the ins and outs of nonprofit work. The Agriplex is doing good work attempting to promote agricultural heritage through education, and were are still looking for three more VISTAs!”

 

That’s right, the Agriplex is still looking for people to join the VISTA program and fight poverty here in Cullman. One of these positions will be working at the WaterWorks Environmental Education Center in Hartselle, AL while the other two positions will be in Cullman at the North Alabama Agriplex.

 

Time is running out! VISTA applications are due on September 20th with the positions starting November 4th.

 

To apply, please visit https://my.americorps.gov/mp/login.do, or learn more about the individual positions at https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=55234&fromSearch=true and https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=55283&fromSearch=true.