Home News National Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Service Corps Kick-Off in Philadelphia

National Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Service Corps Kick-Off in Philadelphia

Mayor Nutter, Obama Administration Officials Swear-In AmeriCorps VISTA Team to Work in 18 States

Top federal and local officials joined with national and Philadelphia-based non-profit groups at City Hall to swear-in forty-six members of the new national Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps, an AmeriCorps VISTA project which will build the capacities of nonprofit organizations in 18 states at nearly 30 sites to enable more eligible individuals and families to fight hunger while also empowering them to achieve long-term financial security.

The program is being led by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH), a non-profit organization, and funded jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in combination with additional support from non-governmental donors, this unique public-private partnership is aimed at reducing the hunger and food insecurity faced by 50 million Americans.

“In this nation of plenty, it is unacceptable that millions of children still go to bed not knowing if there will be food for their next meal,” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds AmeriCorps and a senior member of the subcommittee that funds the USDA. “The Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps is a win-win - it will play an important role in the fight against hunger, while helping young people build leadership skills and pay off school debt.”

Two of the VISTAs will work the whole year in Philadelphia, sponsored by the local groups Philabundance and the Campaign for Working Families. According to recent data collected by the Gallup organization and released by the Food Research and Action Center, Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, centered in Philadelphia, has the second highest rate of food hardship out of the nation’s 435 Congressional districts.

“The financial crisis is creating more need in communities while simultaneously reducing the resources available to nonprofits to help,” said Khadijah Jones, director of the Campaign for Working Families. “Deploying a team of VISTAs with a focus on anti-hunger initiatives is an effective strategy to overcome these hurdles. We are a grateful partner.”

“This is a remarkable opportunity for us to bolster our program support while strengthening ties with hunger relief and advocacy organizations across the country, like the New York City Coalition Against Hunger,” said George Matysik of Philabundance. “Our organization has hosted VISTAs for several years, and we find their work ethic and innovation to be contagious throughout the organization. VISTAs bring an inherent attitude that they can change the world one neighborhood at a time – something Philabundance strongly endorses.”

Michael A. Nutter, the Mayor of Philadelphia, Kevin Concannon, the USDA Undersecretary who is the chief anti-hunger official in the Obama Administration, Paul Davis, the acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA, and Joel Berg, the Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger swore in the new VISTAs at City Hall today.

"AmeriCorps VISTA members live and serve in some of our nation's poorest urban and rural areas," said Mayor Nutter. "With passion, commitment, and hard work, they work to help individuals and families rise out of poverty. I am excited that the City of Philadelphia was chosen to host the swearing-in ceremony of the 2011 class of VISTA volunteers, and I wish them great success as they volunteer their time, energy, and talents in the coming year in cities and towns across the nation."

“Increasing access to nutrition assistance for our most vulnerable populations is a top priority of the Obama Administration,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Kevin Concannon. “We are committed to working with our partners at the federal, state and local level, as together we help millions of families in need.”

“For more than 45 years, VISTA has been in communities working to improve the lives of millions of the most vulnerable Americans,” said Paul Davis, Acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. “This cross-agency collaboration with USDA will prove instrumental in helping individuals and families get on the path to economic stability and build stronger communities.”

“The AmeriCorps VISTA program is a perfect tool to fight hunger and improve nutrition,” said NYCCAH’s Joel Berg. “We are grateful that this new public-private partnership will cost-effectively aid the ability of grassroots nonprofit groups in 18 states to increase their capacity to enable eligible families to access the federal nutrition assistance benefits that they need to avoid hunger and improve their diets. We are extraordinarily grateful to the Obama Administration and Mayor Nutter for this tremendous federal and local support.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov. AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) taps the skills, talents, and passion of more than 7,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA members are assigned full-time for one year at nonprofit community organizations with the goal of building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of programs that provide low-income Americans with the skills and resources needed to break the cycle of poverty.

# # #