One of the goals of the Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA program is to leverage higher education resources to address anti-poverty issues, and the work that our AmeriCorps members do to support healthy futures and decrease food insecurity is a great example of that. Campus Compact currently supports projects at 13 campuses that address food access, reaching over 950 individuals and distributing over 3,200 pounds of food. Emmi Chamber’s service with the College of Dupage is a perfect example of how AmeriCorps members working to improve food security in their communities can create positive change.
Emmi Chambers, Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at the College of Dupage, is working to expand the food pantry and garden operation on campus in order to alleviate food insecurity, provide educational opportunities in the areas of sustainability and healthy eating, and conduct research, surveys and outreach to increase client support. Emmi helped organize and coordinate two meal kit distributions for the College of Dupage Fuel Pantry in order to provide clients with ingredients needed to cook a holiday meal. More than 100 meal kits were distributed during the winter holiday and 214 individual meals were provided on Thanksgiving Day. Overall, 382 individuals were provided with meals during the holidays. Afterwards, a Fuel Pantry client shared that, “I lost my job back in October 2021 and I was so worried about affording a decent holiday meal and even items for my children for Christmas. The Fuel Pantry at COD helped us so much and made our holiday the best one in a long time.”
In addition, Emmi is creating a Holiday Meal Kit Distribution Guide that will include email and survey templates, marketing materials, and best practices for organizing holiday distributions. Once complete, this guide will provide resources for hosting distributions which will save her organization time, help better serve clients, and ensure the sustainability of holiday meal kit distributions in the future. According to Emmi, her Campus Compact AmeriCorps experience has shaped her “understanding of how to approach community engagement work” and feels that AmeriCorps has prepared her to pursue community engagement work in the future “in a way no other experience could.”