My summer as an Americorps VISTA member with the Hunger Intervention Program has been very memorable, rewarding, and has helped me better understand the prevalence of food insecurity in King County. Not only have I had the opportunity to reduce food insecurity by providing free meals to those in need, but I have also had the chance to build relationships with every family that I serve.
When I first started this internship, I wasn’t really sure of what to expect. I had an idea in my head of what the program might look like, but I had no clue how much hard-work, sweat, and dedication it would take to tackle food insecurity in King County. The first thing that struck me was how eager and enthusiastic everyone was to start the task at hand. Immediately, I could tell that all of my fellow VISTAs would make great teammates for the summer ahead. From jamming out to music while doing meal-prep, to cooling down on a hot day while washing the HIP vans, we always manage to make work fun. I was also excited to work closely with the HIP staff members that help to make the Summer Meals program possible. It did not take long for all of us to grow close and become a cohesive and fun-loving team.
One thing that I have truly enjoyed from my summer with HIP has been the opportunity to serve meals at the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services, or ADWAS. This has provided me with a greater appreciation for the work that we do, as I am directly able to see the positive impact that free summer meals can have on each family. It also amazes me to see the strong bond shared by residents in this community; where staff and residents alike treat each other like family. The kids have also been very welcoming to me, and I look forward to seeing their smiling faces as they enjoy their meals and play on the playground. Occasionally, one of the younger children will run up to me and give me a big hug, telling me thank you for the meal. Although some of the residents are not able to communicate with me verbally, I can see the appreciation in their warm smiles and gestures. These sweet interactions always remind me of the importance of free summer meals programs and the impact that we have on these kids and their families.
I am confident that I will walk away from this summer with countless memories, new skills, and a “hunger” for tackling food insecurity. As I start my final semester as a graduate student of public health, I will no doubt take my experiences from HIP and use them to make positive changes in my future public health work. I am thankful for my summer with the HIP Summer Meals program, and even more thankful for all of the wonderful people I have met along the way!