Washington partnership leverages AmeriCorps to address unprecedented food insecurity efforts across state
To date, the program has deployed 120 AmeriCorps members at 70 community nonprofits in 14 counties across the state
Last year, Serve Washington, the state’s service commission, the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the Schultz Family Foundation created the Response Corps to respond to unprecedented levels of food insecurity across the state.
New findings reveal just how successful the partnership was to help make the AmeriCorps program more accessible to its members and, in turn, help address food insecurity for Washington families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Response Corps invests in nonprofits and for individuals who want to serve as AmeriCorps members. It was the first of-its-kind program where philanthropic funds were combined with federal funds to support multiple AmeriCorps programs across the state.
That meant the partnership could address three things:
- Invest in the overall food insecurity effort statewide
- Help nonprofits already addressing food insecurity by funding AmeriCorps members at these locations
- Increase the stipend that AmeriCorps members receive for their service
National Service and AmeriCorps is known nationally for deploying service to meet community needs.
“Washington communities have faced countless challenges this past year, and food insecurity has been one of the most pervasive,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “The Response Corps is a perfect example of the impact public and private partnerships can have in taking care of our communities.”
Already planning for a second year, the partnership will continue to leverage new funding from federal, philanthropic and local partners to address even more COVID-19 impacts in Washington.
Since November 2020, AmeriCorps members in the Washington COVID Response Corps collectively completed 61,099 hours of service, providing more than 23.8 million pounds of food to Washingtonians and serving them more than 4.7 million meals.
Amber Martin-Jahn, executive director of Serve Washington, said this partnership with the Schultz Family Foundation not only made a significant impact in unprecedented food security efforts but it also helped Washington AmeriCorps programs provide a stronger stipend.
“We’ve done it for a year and we know it’s meeting high needs,” Martin-Jahn said. “We’re excited for a second year because we’ve seen such success in it and want to keep learning. Through this partnership, we increased the number of AmeriCorps members who helped us tackle food insecurity and more Washingtonians were served. This investment also expanded professional development opportunities and amplified the powerful role national service can, and should play, in building a path of opportunity and service for all young people as our state’s future leaders.”
The partnership supported 125 AmeriCorps members addressing food insecurity. That funding also supported diversity, equity and inclusion goals that AmeriCorps has been working on during the past few years.
To date, the program has deployed 120 AmeriCorps members at 70 community nonprofits in 14 counties across the state, where 30 percent of households struggle with food insecurity and people of color are 1.5 times more likely to be food insecure than white people (according to a University of Washington food security survey in 2020).
Read the full study here.
Read more about the WA Covid Response Corps here.