AmeriCorps announces food security initiative in Arkansas

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 700 views 

AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism and national service, announced more than $255,000 in grant funding to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program’s food security initiative over the next three years.

The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan. The VISTA initiative is a collaborative effort to try and end hunger which affects one in eight Americans and more than 400,000 Arkansans. The award was announced Thursday (Aug. 25) as part of the agency’s overall $2 million in hunger impact grants over the past two years.

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s historic American Rescue Plan investment enabled AmeriCorps to expand our food security efforts in communities with the greatest need,” said AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith. “UAMS’ programs not only address immediate hunger, but they also prioritize public health education and agricultural production to disrupt the cycle of food access issues.”

UAMS said it collaborates with Northwest Arkansas organizations that serve diverse food-insecure populations. Together with national and local experts, AmeriCorps and UAMS will work to improve the local food system, according to Pearl McElfish, UAMS Office of Community Health & Research division director.

She said UAMS is recruiting up to 27 AmeriCorps members to serve in the VISTA program to support organizations across the state working to meet the needs of Arkansas’ most vulnerable and underserved populations. The AmeriCorps members will expand capacity and increase food access through their service in the charitable food system, support of local agriculture and production programs, improve coordination and connection to essential services that impact food security, and increase the availability of culturally and medically appropriate foods.

AmeriCorps said in addition to grants, the collaborative approach to poverty and hunger allocation includes sponsors in the community who will meet every other month to share ideas, best practices and expand the network.