VISTA Summer Associates 2012
2012 Ohio Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate Host Sites
Case Western University
John Carroll University
Kent State University
Lorain County Community College
Miami University Oxford
Ohio Campus Compact
Owens Community College
Shawnee State University
University of Cincinnati Clermont
University of Mount Union
Wright State University
This year’s summer program will focus on Healthy Food for All, with general duties and responsibilities being to develop, implement, and manage educational programs that build awareness of food insecurity and hunger issues in local communities. Assist with the management and implementation of local community garden projects. Assist with the management and implementation of local summer nutrition and food access programs. Build awareness of hunger issues through education and community gardens and summer nutrition and food access programs. Help the community understand the gap and show that when community members do not receive healthy fresh food there is an increase obesity and diabetes in the community. Build capacity of continuing community gardens. As a result of the OCC AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates engagement of community and campus volunteers, local organizations will increase their capacity to serve the low-income community.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is committed to ensuring a brighter future for all of America’s youth and engaging students in the community. The AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate Program gives campuses an opportunity to invest in both of these goals.
In conjunction with CNCS, Ohio Campus Compact (OCC) is sponsoring 28 Summer Associate (SA) VISTAs in Ohio this year. The 2012 program will focus on food access for disadvantaged youth, much like the 2011 SA program (see bottom of page for highlights from 2011). This year, the program is ten weeks long with service dates of June 4th – August 10th, 2012. SAs will work on a variety of food access projects and issues, to include community garden development and sustainability, summer health and nutrition education programs, farmers markets, and healthy snack and meal programs to name a few.
Summer Associate updates from our 2012 sites!
Lorain County Community College-Summer Associate Andrew Parker
Adrew has helped to promote awareness for food insecurity, healthful eating, and local food consumption by immersing the kids at the Children’s Learning Center in the culinary garden. The garden has provided priceless opportunities for growth and learning for the children and toddlers at the Center, and the parents have also benefited both physically and mentally from the garden. Thus far, the garden has provided at least 50 meals for the children and their families, and this indeed is before most of the crops are mature. With the assistance of the classroom teachers, Andrew is helping the children to expand their learning experiences beyond the classroom. Furthermore, many others on campus are replicating and becoming involved in what is taking place at the Learning Center, such as the new Culinary Arts Center and the Library, which contains an extensive greenroof, such as the one on the children’s playground is modeled after.
John Carroll University-Summer Associates Alyssa Giannirakis and Joan Yokie
Alyssa and Joan have been working on three different projects. The biggest project and main focus is helping one of JCU’s campus’ community partners, The Heights Emergency Food Center, with recruiting volunteers, setting up their own website, and updating their flyer. The second project has been working with Councilman Joe Cimperman and his team with their Summer Smoothie Program, which started two weeks ago and will go on for four more weeks. The program provides smoothies to kids three days a week at 10 local recreation centers. The goal for this program is to introduce children to eating healthy fruits and vegetables through smoothies and eventually implement the program in the Cleveland schools. In addition, they have also been working with refugees from Us Together Immigration Services who started a community garden with the help of our Center for Service and Social Action, which provided the planting space. On July 18, the SAs organized a garden party at the community garden on campus with the help of the staff at the Center for Service and Social Action. The event was held to raise awareness of the community garden on campus and the Heights Emergency Food Center. The turnout was over 70 people for the summer cookout and the SAs were overjoyed that so many of the attendees showed an interest in the garden and even volunteering!
Miami University Oxford-Summer Associates Deborah O’Neal and Robert Hendricks
The VISTA Summer Associates Deborah and Robert have organized various programs and recruited a number of volunteers to help run the programs as well as help out at the Booker T. Washington Community Center. So far, over 20 Miami student volunteers and 260 children have participated in programming that includes healthy breakfasts and lunches, a sports camp, open swim, and other activities that encourage children to live healthy lifestyles. Our organization is dedicated to serving Hamilton’s youth and encouraging them to become active and vibrant members in the community.
Case Western Reserve University-Summer Associates Caitlin Hearn and Amanda Langhals
This summer, our main projects at the farm have been helping to organize and implement the farm’s first CSA program and weekly farmers market. Amanda’s work focuses on the farmers market. She prepares produce for market and keeps track of how much produce we sell, how many customers we get, and which items sell well and which do not. This data will be used to plan for next summer’s crops. Caitlin works mainly with the farm’s CSA program. She organizes the bags for 29 CSA members, assists with delivery, communicates regularly with members via email, and keeps track of what customers receive each week. In addition to working on their individual projects, both VISTAs harvest, prepare produce, and run the farmers market each week. We are very excited that the farmers market will continue into the fall, and that there will be a fall CSA program as well. Both of these programs make an important impact on the community by making fresh, local produce much more easily available to community members, as well as helping to educate people about the importance of healthy eating.
Caitlin’s individual community partner this summer is Green Corps, a non-profit based at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Green Corps is a work-study program for high-school students, many of whom come from low-income families. The students work part time on five learning farms situated around East Cleveland. Caitlin’s main project with Green Corps is to improve its marketing and public relations, as well as increase community awareness of the program and the farms, which are open to the public. Caitlin has worked with the students using good customer service skills, and has encouraged them to spread over 200 flyers for their weekly markets all over the community. Another of Caitlin’s projects has been to establish a customer survey at each of the markets. The data from these surveys will be compiled and used to help plan the crops and marketing for next summer’s markets. It can also be used in funding applications. Finally, Caitlin has organized an open house at Yellow House, one of the five learning farms. It will be open to the public, and its purpose is to invite East Cleveland residents (plus their friends and families) to come eat some farm-fresh food, explore the farm, and learn how the Green Corps learning farms can benefit the entire community.
Throughout the summer, Amanda and Caitlin have been working with a group of refugees at the Refugee Response Farm in Ohio City. These refugees have come to America from countries including Bhutan, Burma, Tanzania, and Liberia. The VISTAs have helped to harvest, clean and prepare food for the weekly farmer’s market. They have also gone to the nearby senior housing building to raise awareness of eating local and healthy foods and sell fresh produce to the more than 500 occupants that live there. The VISTAs have also spent the summer planning an open house event, which will take place on August 5 at the farm. The goal of the event is to bring community members into the farm to educate them on nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Local chefs will be coming to prepare food fresh off the farm, as well as games and entertainment.
Amanda’s individual community partner, Cleveland Crops, is an organization that employs adults with developmental disabilities to work on the farm. Amanda is working at the Stanard Farm location, which is the original farm. While on the farm, she serves by helping the consumers (adults with disabilities) to plant, weed, harvest, and process the food brought in. She also helps organize the food to be distributed in the weekly CSA program held by Cleveland Crops. Amanda has been busy helping train the new employees that have come to the farm, and she has loved getting to know everyone on the farm. She loves seeing the many personalities that work together. Cleveland Crops is also hoping to extend its growing season with the construction of a new greenhouse. This will provide further opportunities for the consumers by allowing for employment to be continued into the winter.
2011 Summer Associates Overview
Check out the highlights from the 2011 OCC Summer Associate VISTA program!
2011 OCC SA VISTAs at-a-glance
- Engaged over 800 disadvantaged Ohio youth
- Served almost 12,000 meals at free breakfast and lunch programs
- Engaged almost 300 local community and college campus volunteers who served over 2,300 hours
- Maintained 18 community gardens
- Donated 2,000+ lbs of fresh produce to local communities