September 9, 2013
by Ava Martine Young

The Child Hunger Corps is a national service program designed to increase the capacity and capability of food banks to execute programs targeted towards the alleviation of child hunger. The objective of the program is to increase the number of nutritious snacks and meals served to children in need in local communities across the country. The Child Hunger Corps initiative is sponsored by the ConAgra Foods Foundation.

In August 2013, the 11 Corps members from the second cohort completed their two-year service terms at Feeding America member food banks and six new Corps members began their service terms, forming the fourth cohort of Child Hunger Corps members. The third cohort is currently in the middle of the two-year program. This post is by second cohort member Ava Martine Young, Child Hunger Corps member at the Lowcountry Food Bank, who is now working as a program manager at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in Washington, DC.

As I conclude my two year service term as Child Hunger Corps member, I have much to contemplate. What do I want to do next? Do I want to go to school? Where do I want to live? But, as I sit and envision my next moves, I have come to a very important realization. This experience has defined me as a person more than anything else I have ever done.

The personal and professional growth I have experienced could not have come at a more pivotal time in my life. I am growing up and deciding who it is that I want to be. A large part of the vision for my life stems back to everything I have been doing for the past two years. Whether due to my intimate work with federal child nutrition programs, community engagement and coalition building, or organizational strategic planning, I truly believe that the knowledge and skill sets that I developed during my time with Feeding America and the Lowcountry Food Bank have set me on my permanent professional trajectory.

My dedication to youth programming and community food security is stronger than it has ever been, and I am ecstatic that I was able to move the needle towards progress on these issues in my community. I am eternally grateful to Feeding America for giving me this opportunity and working so hard to make sure that my time spent in the field at a local food bank was one supported with resources, encouragement, and autonomy.

Lastly, I would like to make note of my amazing fellow cohort members. These individuals are some of the brightest young minds in the field and I continue to be impressed by their passion, work ethic, and intelligence. Although we started out as strangers, I know that we will all be lifelong friends. I look forward to continuing to work with them throughout life as we work to make our country a better place for future generations.

Tags: Food Bank Network , South Carolina , Lowcountry Food Bank

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