AmeriCorps Service Symposium was a very brief window into understanding some of the ways in which poverty and hunger impact our communities here in Montana. Childhood hunger is something that impacts a huge percentage of school-aged kids throughout the country and something Montana has chosen to address by raising awareness, tens of thousands of dollars in funding, and engaging the local community to support food drive initiatives like the one AmeriCorps Service Members from around the state participated in.
In total, our one day of service contributed to the collection of over 13,000 lbs of nutritious food options with over 1200 lunches prepared. We were food fairies for a day and hundreds of school kids throughout Helena will benefit from this initiative because of this AmeriCorps effort. We divided our efforts between distribution warehouses for food storage and driving around Helena to collect the individual contributions from hundreds of families throughout the city. This is what good community engagement looks like at it’s best. From the Governor, to the Mayor, to local universities, to local non-profits, and to AmeriCorps Service Members, many of whom just recently arrived in Montana. We all rallied around the idea that kids shouldn’t go hungry after school. Reflecting on this and knowing that this contribution of service is just a small percentage of our total service should give all of us a degree of pride in our work. What we do today does impact the future. The Governor’s Office of Community Service and other local news sources made a point of highlighting this service event in a few articles by recognizing that this is what impactful community engagement, good public policy, and an emphasis on social justice looks like.