AmeriCorps will grant more than $255,000 in American Rescue Plan funding to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the federal volunteer agency announced. The grant funding is part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program and its food security initiative over the next three years. AmeriCorps has awarded over $2 million in grants to organizations addressing the impact of hunger in their state during the pandemic.
“The Biden-Harris Administration’s historic American Rescue Plan investment enabled AmeriCorps to expand our food security efforts in communities with the greatest need,” said Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO. “UAMS’ programs not only address immediate hunger, but they also prioritize public health education and agricultural production to disrupt the cycle of food access issues.”
The UAMS Office of Community Health and Research collaborates with Arkansas organizations who serve diverse food-insecure populations. Together with national and local experts, AmeriCorps and UAMS will work to improve the local food system.
On Aug. 25, Daniel Dunlap, the deputy regional administrator of AmeriCorps South Central, joined Amy Wenger, vice chancellor of UAMS Northwest Regional Campus; Pearl McElfish, M.B.A, Ph.D., division director of the UAMS Office of Community Health and Research; and Mayor of Springdale Doug Sprouse to recognize AmeriCorps members and announce the grant award at the UAMS Office of Community Health and Research.
“Addressing food security in Arkansas is a priority aim of UAMS Community Health & Research,” McElfish said. “AmeriCorps VISTA Food Security Initiative service members will build the capacity of our partner organizations to best serve their communities. Access to healthy foods is key to building thriving communities, and we are thrilled to bring this program to Arkansas.”
UAMS is recruiting up to 25 AmeriCorps members to serve in the VISTA program to support organizations across the state working to meet the needs of Arkansas’ most vulnerable and underserved populations. These AmeriCorps members will expand capacity and increase food access through their service in the charitable food system, support of local agriculture and production programs, improve coordination and connection to essential services that impact food security and increase availability to culturally and medically appropriate foods.
More information about the program and hunger relief in Arkansas is available online.