Partnership seeks volunteers to battle food insecurity

Contact: Lara Burhenn, 979-458-8498, Lara.Burhenn@ag.tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – One in four Texas children is food insecure, meaning they don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, according to a 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

To help address this problem, the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are working to connect food-insecure children with the healthy meals they need to thrive in school and in life.

Through a partnership with AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America, TDA and AgriLife Extension are seeking highly motivated volunteers to help Texas communities facing food-insecurity challenges.

“We’re looking for volunteers to make a full-time, yearlong commitment to a community,” said Rachel Brauner, AgriLife Extension program coordinator, Bryan. “This would be a great opportunity for college students looking for real-world work experience or retirees wanting to contribute their time and efforts to making a real difference to a community in need.”

The Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are working to connect food-insecure children with the healthy meals they need to thrive in school and in life, through a partnership with AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America. (Texas A&M AgriLife  photo  by Kay Ledbetter).

The Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are working to connect food-insecure children with the healthy meals they need to thrive in school and in life, through a partnership with AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter).

Selected VISTA volunteers will live in each of five regions throughout the state to work with TDA and AgriLife Extension county agents to implement food and nutrition programs in the community. VISTA volunteers will form advisory committees with parents and key community members to strengthen local school wellness policies, increase summer food programs and improve food and nutrition education. At the end of their year of service, members will have created a sustainable framework communities can use to ensure their children practice TDA’s “3E’s of Healthy Living” — Education, Exercise and Eating Right.

“By partnering with AmeriCorps VISTA, the Texas Department of Agriculture and AgriLife Extension are bringing a whole new level of expertise to communities that can benefit from our nutrition programs and to support healthier lifestyles for children in Texas,” said Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. “Strengthening Texas communities is my priority at TDA, and I encourage our friends out there to get involved. If you have a passion for promoting child nutrition, I hope you’ll apply for the AmeriCorps VISTA program and help ensure a healthier future for the Lone Star State.”

Applications are now being accepted for the 2016-2017 term to serve areas around Castro and Baylor counties. Membership is open to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents age 18 or older. AmeriCorps VISTA members in the initiative will receive training and be provided a monthly living allowance.

Applications must be submitted through the AmeriCorps portal. For more information about how to apply, visit TDA’s Food and Nutrition Community Engagement page at SquareMeals.org/JoinAmeriCorps. For questions, contact TDA at FNCommunityEngagement@TexasAgriculture.gov.

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