The AmeriCorps VISTA program has been at the forefront of the struggle to end poverty in the U.S. for over 50 years. Over the course of FRAC’s history, AmeriCorps VISTA Members have made important contributions towards our mission to end hunger. As we look toward 2017, we have asked our current VISTA Members to share their experiences and goals in the fight against hunger and poverty.
This is part three of a three-part installment on getting to know Anti-Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA Members at FRAC.
A lifelong Marylander, Claire grew up in Baltimore and went to St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She graduated in May 2016 with degrees in political science and public policy. After graduation, she took a cross-country road trip with her brother, where they split their time between laughing, arguing, and taking pictures for Instagram. She’s currently applying to law schools.
Read on to learn more about how Claire is working to end hunger for Maryland Hunger Solutions (MDHS).
How did you get involved in the fight against hunger?
Prior to working at Maryland Hunger Solutions, I held positions at the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Maryland (USAO), the Maryland Office of the Public Defender (MD PD), and on Capitol Hill, where I witnessed the impact of social and economic inequities.
These experiences underlined the importance of policy implementation in fostering equality, and I wanted to get involved in direct anti-hunger work to see how I could make a difference.
What do you do in your position at MDHS?
I am focusing on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach, raising awareness and educating communities on the application process. As part of this, I attend events across the state at all types of locations, from elementary schools to farmers’ markets to the Baltimore Convention Center.
Additionally, I collaborate with our partners on how to increase SNAP participation in Maryland, and craft campaigns to reach target communities. You can also catch me tweeting from @MarylandHunger!
What are your goals as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member?
I hope to continue learning from my inspiring and dedicated colleagues at MDHS and FRAC. I am also developing a better understanding of the inner workings of Maryland’s state institutions and learning how to identify obstacles that Maryland residents face when applying for federal benefits.
What are you learning at MDHS that will prepare you for future work on anti-hunger efforts?
MDHS is helping me become a better advocate through my work with constituents to articulate both their individual and broader policy concerns to state agencies. My team members have shown me how to navigate bureaucratic challenges with tenacity and grace. These are qualities that I hope will help me become an effective public interest attorney and advocate.
How will you continue to fight hunger after your time as a VISTA Member ends?
As a future attorney, I hope to advocate for anti-poverty and anti-hunger policies. My experiences at MDHS have awoken me to the problem of hunger in America, and it is something I will always keep with me in my future work.
As President Obama once said, “If you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”