After driving over 2000 miles and exploring the northwest for ten blissful days, I finally found myself in what would be my new home for the next 10 months: Helena, MT. Although I was quickly captivated by the never-ending mountain ranges and wide array of wildlife (who ever would have thought a Chicagoland native would see a grizzly bear in real life?!) I felt uncertain about this new stomping ground. Will I make friends? What will my living situation be like? What will my role with Montana No Kid Hungry be?
I was wide-eyed and full of positive, restless energy, with many different ideas and little insight on how to execute them. After a few weeks, I began to feel a bit more settled. Suddenly I had friends to call on the weekends and could get to the grocery store without needing to use my GPS. Ideas started to transform into a disjointed vision for how I would fulfill all the objectives of AmeriCorps and explore different methods for addressing challenging sociocultural issues, like hunger, food waste, food access, and lapses in public education and understanding of nutrition and health.
As time passed, I began to understand more specific objectives, goals, and measures, like the need to implement alternative breakfast models in schools, plan events, and recruit volunteer stakeholders. I’m currently in the beginning stages of planning a community dinner, which will be free to the public, provide nutrition education, and raise awareness about hunger in our community. Throughout my term I hope to work with students themselves, and empower them to take an active role in their schools and communities regarding issues that pertain to health. I look forward to seeing how the rest of my service term unfolds, and learning from all the students, food service staff, teachers, faculty, and community members that I encounter and collaborate with.