Ohio Campus Compact

VISTA Voice
Volume 6, Issue 1 August-November, 2010

Food Security Edition
Staff
Nicholas Weber Editor, Writer Defiance College Raven DeVoll Writer John Carroll U. Zaia Thombre Writer Marietta College Rebecca Fensler Writer Wright State U.
Inside This Issue Summer Associates Program -Page 2 Make a Difference Day -Page 3 Alumni Corner -Page 4 The Paper Plate Campaign -Page 6

Editor’s Note
Hello to all our readers and fellow VISTAs, and welcome to the VISTA Voice! The VISTA Voice is a quarterly newsletter that is dedicated to highlighting some of the ambitious projects that OCC VISTAs from across the state have been working on. A new issue is released each quarter, each themed around a different poverty alleviation focus area. This first issue is focused on food security projects. Among those highlighted are the 2010 Summer Associate VISTA program, community gardens and an interesting new project that can help you start a food security conversation in your community or on campus.

Warm regards for the cold months, -Nicholas Weber, Editor

“When you share your last crust of bread with a beggar, you mustn't behave as if you were throwing a bone to a dog. You must give humbly, and thank him for allowing you to have a part in his hunger.”- Giovanni Guareschi

VISTA Voice, Page 2 Summer Associates Program; John Carroll University’s New Community Garden
by Raven DeVoll

More than 1.4 million Ohioans receive emergency food assistance each year, according to the “Hunger in Ohio 2010” study released by the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks. Ohio food pantries, soup kitchens, and other assistance agencies have experienced a 78 percent increase in clients served, many struggling to choose between food and other basic necessities. Ohio Campus Compact Summer Associate VISTAs confronted the lack of food security in their integrate the fresh food into communities and on their their daily meals. She began a campuses, creating new nutrition program for the food programs to address this issue. recipients, educating them on Nutrition programs, community how to cook the fresh gardens, and food pantries are vegetables. some of the VISTA initiatives Distelrath’s work with created to help community the food center has helped her members access food. to see the effects the recession Catherine Distelrath, a and poor economy have had on recent summer associate at John the local community. “Working Carroll University, served as the at the center really teaches you key coordinator for JCU’s new that you can’t judge someone by c o m m u n i t y only looking at them. “You can’t judge garden. Distelrath Different people are someone by only and six faculty going through looking at them. volunteers tended different times in their the garden all Different people are lives; you just never summer, donating going through different know their story,” she fresh produce to times in their lives; said. Even though the H e i g h t s you just never know Distelrath’s summer their story.” Emergency Food of service has come to Center located in a close, she still Cleveland. After generating 86 volunteers with the Heights pounds of produce, Distelrath Emergency Food Center on a realized the people served by the weekly basis. She serves as the center were unsure how to youngest member on its

executive board and is in the process of planning a 5K run fundraiser for the spring. Augustine Izzo, a JCU senior, is continuing to advance the nutrition program Distelrath created to include recipes and food preparation instructions in various languages to reach all the clients served by the center. Autumn Partlow, one of the associates at Marietta College, worked on a food security project too. Partlow served with Marietta College’s community partner Harvest of Hope, a food recovery program with a community gardening component. HOH receives donated food from grocery stores that has reached its sellby date but is still good to eat, and takes the food to area agencies and pantries. HOH’s community garden is the 8th in the county and provides gardening classes,

VISTA Voice, Page 3
plots, seeds, plants, and tools for those unable to afford gardening. Last year HOH had 77 gardeners in two communities. All of HOH’s work is accomplished by more than 100 volunteers, donating approximately 2,600 hours in 2009. Working with HOH, Partlow created and coordinated a donation-based farmer’s market in which recipients donate only what they can afford. The produce for sale is generated from the community plot of one of the Harvest of Hope gardens. This new initiative is completely run by RSVP volunteers. Throughout the summer the mini farmer’s market served 2030 consistent clients each week. Heather Eichner, current OCC VISTA at Mount Union College, is also addressing food security during her year of service in Alliance. Eichner will be working 10 hours per week at the Alliance Community Pantry, a choice food pantry scheduled to open this November. She will be cowriting the operations manual, create review policies and procedures for the pantry, craft the volunteer packet, and completing client assessments and surveys once the pantry opens. Mount Union's first official event in partnership with the pantry will be the Trick or Treat for Canned Goods on Saturday Oct. 30.

Fighting Hunger and Homelessness on Make a Difference Day
by Rebecca Fensler
On Make a Difference Day 2010, volunteers across Ohio joined together to make a difference in their communities. Ohio Campus Compact VISTAs throughout the state partner with members or resources on their campus and local communities to address issues su c h as hunger a nd homelessness where they live. OCC VISTAs are in a unique position to mobilize students as volunteers for projects of this nature in the community. The following are just some of the projects VISTAs from OCC coordinated for Make a Difference Day. On October 23, youth volunteers and students from the University of Findlay worked together on a project called “O ne M a tter s: Pr oj ec t Connect”—a resource fair for homeless families or individuals. The event was planned by members of community organizations such as Blanchard Valley Medical System and Legal Aid of Western Ohio. Gwen Stembridge, the University of Findlay’s OCC VISTA, served as a member of the event’s planning committee. During the event, guests were paired with a volunteer who served as a guide for the day and were provided much needed resources such as flu-shots, blankets, socks, dental checks, benefit counseling, legal aid counseling, and hygiene kits.

Continued on Page 4

VISTA Voice, Page 4
Continued from page 3 In Dayton, over 60 students and volunteers from Wright State University collected more than 3000 pounds of food for students at Westwood PK-8 School, a Dayton public school. Wright State University is currently in its third year of partnership with Westwood School. Gillian Wynn, Youth Programs Coordinator/OCC AmeriCorps VISTA at Wright State, coordinates tutoring and afterschool programs at Westwood. Volunteers and service-learning students tutor Westwood students, offering them help with homework and helping them build skills in
reading and math. Westwood School is located in a lowincome neighborhood and an astounding 100% of students who attend the school qualify for free or reduced lunches. Sarah Twill, a professor in the Social Work Department at Wright State, recognized the need for additional food assistance for Westwood students. She had discovered many children who receive free and reduced lunches at school often go hungry on the weekends; some children may not eat between lunch on Friday and breakfast on Monday morning without the assistance of the school lunch program. To address this issue Professor Twill and students from her Social Work Class (many of whom are tutors at Westwood) worked with WSU’s OCC VISTA, to implement the

“Good to Go Backpack” Program. Under this program book bags would be filled with nutritional foods that children can prepare themselves, such as fruit cups, pudding, and granola bars. Students partnered with a local Kroger to host a food drive to collect donations for the backpack program. Students handed out information and a list of items being collected to customers entering the Kroger store and encouraged them to purchase items for the food drive while they were doing their shopping. Enough food was collected so that each Westwood student would be able to receive a bag before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Alumni Spotlight; VISTA Leaders Pursue MPA Degree at Ohio University
Thinking about what to do next year? Two VISTA alumni, Renee Steffen and Kelly Hatas, decided to get their Master of Public Administration degree at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. Renee served with Marietta College for two years focusing on hunger issues, becoming a VISTA Leader her second year. Kelly was a VISTA for three years at Shawnee State University focusing on environmental programs in her first year, and hunger and homelessness in her last two. Additionally she also became a VISTA leader in her third year. When asked why she chose to get a degree in Public Administration, Renee said she was largely influenced by her

VISTA Voice, Page 5
supervisor at Marietta College, Tanya Judd Pucella. She stated, “It wasn’t until Tanya recommended it that I seriously considered applying.” Coincidentally enough, Kelly, with her undergrad in International Relations, did not know what she wanted to do, and found out about the program through Renee. Both VISTAs have had good experiences with the program. Renee affirmed, “It’s been awesome. I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m the graduate assistant for the Nonprofit Alliance, and some of my work with the Marietta nonprofits directly relates to my work here. Those connections definitely help, and we are supportive of each other.” Although Kelly has only just started her program, she really enjoys the school work and is working on implementing a grant called Together Ohio. Being a VISTA before entering grad school has helped Steffen and Hatas deepen the meaning of their program. Renee claimed that she could draw on her experiences as a VISTA and relate it to her course material. Kelly stated, “It gave me direction on what I felt I should do with my life and as a career.” Both women talked about how much they enjoyed the autonomy that they had as VISTAs and how OU’s program allows them the same

Renee Steffen
freedom. Both stated that they did not have a specific interest area of poverty alleviation, but rather they enjoyed working with all social justice issues. Although the future is ambiguous for both of them, Renee said she could see herself working as the executive director of a community foundation or potentially working with the state government. Kelly would like to work with a nonprofit in a leadership role. Both attribute the time spent serving with

Kelly Hatas
Ohio Campus Compact to their choice of a degree in Public Administration. Kelly states, “Being surrounded by a group of individuals that all really care about social justice or changing or improving upon issues in society, which nonprofits [also] seek to address, was really inspiring.” Their advice for VISTA members after service: Keep the VISTA passion for serving others alive and always carry the experiences you had with you.

Program Development at a Glance Here’s a quick glance at the resources OCC VISTAs have generated between August and November OCC VISTAs: 34 Total Volunteers: 5182 Baby Boomer Volunteers: 149 Service Hours Contributed: 50,599 Cash Resources Raised: $50,233 Non-cash Resources: $21,180.68

VISTA Voice, Page 6 The Great Paper Plate Campaign;
A Unique Way to Start a Poverty or Food Security Dialogue on Your Campus By Nicholas Weber
In our position as VISTAs, we work with or hear about dozens of social action projects any given week. This past September at a conference for the Ohio Benefit Bank, I came across a unique idea for raising poverty awareness unlike any I had encountered before and wanted to share this with everyone else. This project is known as the Paper Plate Campaign. On July 30th of this year, Dateline NBC aired a special documentary about poverty and food insecurity in America, chronicling the struggles of a Southwest Ohio town facing an astounding 70% unemployment rate. Making the situation worse, the local food bank, “Friends and Neighbors”, the sole source of food for many of the families in town, was running low on food to distribute and struggling to gather enough money to keep its doors open another month. That is when Lisa Roberts, the sole owner/operator of Friends and Neighbors came up with a brilliant, yet simple idea to bring national attention to their cause; hand paper plates out to community members and encourage them to write on the plates about their experiences in dealing with the recession, unemployment and hunger. Lisa eventually collected thousands of these plates and their campus job each week to help pay bills. Another shared with us that they now avoid going home on the weekends because both parents recently lost their jobs and the reality of falling behind on bills and utility disconnect notices had created a tense and depressing atmosphere at home. The Paper Plate Campaign is an excellent, safe, unique icebreaker to use if you are looking to start a poverty conversation on your campus. Better yet, it is extremely cheap and easy to start; all you need are paper plates! Then simply ask students how the recession has touched them or someone they know. In most cases, OASHF will provide you with plates and cover the cost of shipping them to and from the college. When you are done, all you do is send them back to OASHF where they are collected and will be sent to our lawmakers in Washington DC. If this sounds like a project you may be interested in, contact Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, 614-221-4336, the Executive Director of OASHF. Also, for those interested, the full documentary can be found at MSNBC.com, under the title “Friends and Neighbors”.

mailed them directly to the White House in an effort to get the government’s attention. Inspired by this event, the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF) has taken this idea statewide in what it is calling the Paper Plate Campaign. The concept is simple; with 10.5% unemployment, everyone in Ohio has stories about how the recession has affected them or someone they know. The paper plate campaign encourages them to share their story with lawmakers in Washington. I mention this because the paper plate campaign is a great opportunity to start a dialog a b o ut p ove r t y, unemployment or food security in your community or on campus. Here at Defiance College, we passed out plates at several of the Service Leadership meetings on campus, collecting over 100 unique stories. Each meeting quickly turned into a conversation about how students are feeling the effects of the recession in their lives. Some of their confessions were as surprising as they were shocking; one student admitted they send money home from

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