With support from the Corporation for National and Community Service, The Health Trust launched a 3-year VISTA grant in July 2015 at 5 partner sites. Each VISTA member will build capacity at their sites in order to increase the site organizations’ effectiveness in reaching those in need and increasing access to healthy foods in low-income areas. Specifically, members will develop and/or improve internal systems, such as volunteer training and management, client outreach, fundraising, and data tracking.
History: The VISTA grant, which focuses on building organizations’ capacity to end poverty, builds on the foundation created by The Health Trust’s former 6-year Silicon Valley Health Corps (SVHC) AmeriCorps grant. Over 140 members conducted direct service, hands-on work at over 10 sites to build multiple community and school gardens and reach thousands of residents with nutrition education. In total, Americorps members donated and sold over 452,638 pounds and 53, 164 pounds, respectively, of local produce to low-income families from 2012 to 2015. That is the equivalent of 13 tractor trailer loads of food! Please watch the video below to learn more about SVHC.
The SVHC VISTA grant aims to accomplish the following targets for the 2015-2016 year across all partner sites
- At least 700 new staff and community volunteers will receive training to build capacity at their sites
- At least 8 new systems and/or business processes and/or enhancements will be put into place
- At least 650 new beneficiaries will receive services in obesity prevention and health access
- At least 50,000 individuals will receive emergency food from food banks/other organizations
- At least 350 individuals will have received education support or referrals for hunger
- At least 175 individuals will report an increase in food security
- VISTAs will receive ongoing professional development opportunities and training through their year of service
Garden to Table is a local non-profit with the mission to create a sustainable local food system that builds community, improves access to healthy food, and teaches residents how to cultivate their own fruits and vegetables. Garden to Table’s VISTA serves as the Harvest/Outreach Manager. The VISTA works to improve existing outreach methods to recruit regular volunteers and fruit picking leaders to help with the 1 acre farm and lead fruit-harvesting programs. Additionally, the VISTA refines and develops a local aggregation and distribution model for healthy food distribution in underserved areas. The VISTA helps to create a sustainable volunteer network at Garden to Table by improving outreach methods to recruit more volunteers and fruit picking leaders as part of a Train-the-Trainer model for their fruit gleaning program. The VISTA is also responsible for engaging and identifying a network of homeowners to develop a system for connecting gleaned fruit to food banks and Good. To Go. healthy food outlets in target neighborhoods of Santa Clara County.
Sacred Heart Community Services is a non-denominational, non-profit organization that provides integrated services on site, free of charge, to all in need. The VISTA member works specifically with Sacred Heart’s La Mesa Verde program (LMV) as a Volunteer Network Coordinator. La Mesa Verde’s goal is to improve healthy eating and well-being of low-income families and increase self-sufficiency through home-organic vegetable gardens. The VISTA works to improve volunteer retention and volunteer coordination systems for La Mesa Verde by improving volunteer training curricula and training volunteers to implement LMV’s first year gardening course. Additionally, the VISTA helps to improve existing outreach methods to recruit more volunteers and beneficiaries for the program by creating a mapping process to identify more clients and developing more effective communication procedures through in-person outreach, email newsletters, and social media. The VISTA continually works to create a sustainable network of organizational support for the LMV program by leveraging relationships with community organizations, supporting grassroot fundraising efforts, and soliciting in kind donations.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is a trusted leader dedicated to ending local hunger. Second Harvest Food Bank’s VISTA serves as a Volunteer and Resource Coordinator. The VISTA is responsible for strengthening the current volunteer and support network for the Produce Mobile program, which distributes produce to over 3,000 clients in underserved areas of Santa Clara County. The VISTA assesses current sites and develops ongoing best practices to alleviate drop-off among Produce Mobile site participation. The VISTA also works to improve current outreach strategies to recruit more Produce Mobile volunteers, food bank beneficiaries, and leaders for the Community Ambassadors program. The VISTA builds capacity by cultivating relationships with community organizations to serve as outreach partners, refines tracking systems to track new Produce Mobile clients, develops volunteer training curricula, and trains volunteers for the Produce Mobile and Community Ambassadors programs.
The Health Trust is an operating foundation founded in 1996. Since then, it has been a catalyst for community partnerships that identify health challenges and work together to find innovative solutions. The Health Trust provides grants, engages in policy and education and continues its legacy of providing health services to make Silicon Valley healthier for everyone. The Health Trust’s VISTA works with The Health Trust’s Meals on Wheels program as a Resource Coordinator. The VISTA is responsible for volunteer coordination and management by creating better volunteer training curricula, training Meals on Wheels volunteers, and creating a Train-the-Trainer model for volunteer leaders and staff. The VISTA also works to improve current client outreach systems used to link clients to Meals on Wheels services. The VISTA supports work to build a better client outreach plan and will pilot the plan among health fairs and among community events. Additionally, the VISTA is in charge of creating new tracking systems to track new clients that are CalFresh beneficiaries and those who are in need of additional services.
Veggielution seeks to create equity between people and the environment in San Jose by bringing sustainable urban farming to the community. Veggielution’s VISTA serves as the Veggielution Volunteer Coordinator at Emma Prusch Park Farm. The VISTA works to strengthen the current system for recruiting and engaging residents in surrounding low-income areas to serve as volunteers and leaders to help with workday activities such as construction, planting, weeding, composting, and harvesting at the farm. Additionally, the VISTA is responsible for managing new volunteers by developing volunteer training curricula and orientation tools for Veggielution’s Sponsored Group Workday Program and for general farm workdays. The VISTA will build a Train-the-Trainer model by recruiting and training volunteer leaders confident and skilled at facilitating future orientations for new volunteers.