26 AmeriCorps Summer VISTA Associates Join the Fight Against Hunger

(OKLAHOMA CITY) – July 18, 2017 – The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma welcomes the service of 26 AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) Summer Associates to help fight hunger.

VISTA Summer Associates aid in implementing the nonprofit’s programs; increasing access to food for Oklahomans struggling with hunger; hosting community sessions to increase awareness of support programs; and improving the quality of programs.

Eight of the VISTAs are working in Hope’s Kitchen at the Regional Food Bank, where they help prepare 6,000 meals each weekday for more than 120 Summer Feeding program sites. Four VISTAs are assisting with the Urban Harvest program, a sustainable gardening program that promotes agricultural education, fresh food production, community outreach and ecological conservation. Three VISTAs are working in the Regional Food Bank’s Volunteer Center, while 11 VISTAs are assisting at various Summer Feeding sites in the Oklahoma City metro area.  One VISTA is helping at a Summer Feeding site in Duncan, Okla., which is operated by One True Light, a partner agency of the Regional Food Bank.

“Summer is a challenging time for families struggling to pay bills and feed their children,” said Katie Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of the Regional Food Bank. “Our goal is to provide summer meals to children who depend upon free and reduced-priced school meals so that long summer days don’t turn into long hungry nights. The work and support of the VISTA Summer Associates helps us meet this need.”

The following 26 VISTA Summer Associates are serving their terms fighting hunger in Oklahoma:

  • Whitney Ballew (Oklahoma City)
  • Celeste Beihl (Oklahoma City)
  • Amanda Bierschenk (Oklahoma City)
  • Ali Bryant (Tonganoxie, Kan.)
  • Cheyenne Burchfield (Europa, Miss.)
  • Jonathan Dent ((Sealy, Texas)
  • Judith Dimandja (Edmond, Okla.)
  • Kirby Falcon (Edmond, Okla.)
  • Rachel Flaten (Edmond, Okla.)
  • Imani Furtch (Oklahoma City)
  • Sarah Hawkins (Moore, Okla.)
  • Josh Hill (Stigler, Okla.)         
  • Kobbe Knippel (Harrah, Okla.)
  • Jonathan (Johnny) Lee (Oklahoma City)
  • Miah Lingelbach (Edmond, Okla.)
  • Jamie Lopp (Spencer, Okla.)
  • E'Lexus Merriweather (Lawton, Okla.)
  • Josh Miller (Oklahoma City)
  • Chandler Mitchell (Oklahoma City)
  • Kevin Nguyen (Oklahoma City)
  • Emma Patton (Choctaw, Okla.)
  • Michael Redzich (Norman, Okla.)
  • Deja Richey (Oklahoma City)
  • Sharline Rojo Reyes (Moore, Okla.)
  • Waju Suleiman (Oklahoma City)
  • Emilee White (Duncan, Okla.)

VISTA Summer Associates serve nonprofits nationwide and help build organizational, administrative and financial capacity of organizations that serve low-income communities. For their service, they will receive an education award or post-service stipend, a living allowance and experience professional development.

It’s never too late to join the fight against hunger in Oklahoma. Help fight childhood hunger by signing up to volunteer at www.regionalfoodbank.org/volunteer or call 405-600-3160. Another way to fight hunger in the state is by making a donation. Every dollar donated provides the equivalent of five meals for Oklahomans with inconsistent access to food. For more information about the Regional Food Bank, or to make a donation, call 405-600-3136 or visit www.regionalfoodbank.org/summer.   

Established in 1980, the Regional Food Bank is the largest private, domestic hunger-relief organization in the state of Oklahoma. Last fiscal year, the nonprofit distributed 52 million pounds of food and products through a network of more than 1,300 charitable feeding programs and schools in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties.

About the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is the state’s largest private, domestic hunger-relief organization and a member of Feeding America’s network of Food Banks.  The nonprofit provides enough food to feed more than 126,000 hungry Oklahomans each week through a network of more than 1,300 schools and charitable feeding programs in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. Since its inception in 1980, the Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 600 million pounds of food to feed Oklahoma’s hungry.  For more information, visit http://www.regionalfoodbank.org; find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/regionalfoodbank or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rfbo.

About AmeriCorps VISTA Program
Started in 1965, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) is a national service program that works to eliminate poverty and was conceived by Pres. John F. Kennedy as a domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps. In 1994, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs. To date, more than 220,000 VISTA members have served in all 50 states and U.S. Territories. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov/americorpsvista.