My Opportunity To Make An Impact

by | Apr 6, 2017

My Opportunity To Make An Impact

by Astasha Lewis

The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, established in 2004, is a non-profit organization representing a network of hunger relief organizations around the state of Arkansas. It is an amazing organization that uses different programs and partnerships to combat hunger in the state.  It is also where I have spent my time serving for AmeriCorps.  It has been a very unique but very rewarding experience that has taught me the power of advocacy and education.

I knew this would be a unique experience because I am from a single parent low income household. There were many times that my mom and family had to choose between food and other necessities. I’ve seen many people in my neighborhood and community struggle, and I wanted to join an organization that would help my community. As an AmeriCorps member I have been given the opportunity to do that and build personal relationships with the people I serviced.

One way that I serve my community is by conducting Cooking Matters classes at several organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Little Rock Prep Academy , Garland Towers just to name a few. The Cooking Matters classes are 6-week courses that include basic nutrition and cooking skills. I teach a wide range of individuals, but my favorite group is always the kids. They are so open and excited about learning how to cook. Every week they return to class so eager to tell us all of the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains they have eaten since the previous class. Some kids start cooking meals at home with their parents and teach their parents little shopping tips from class. I am able to introduce a ton of new and helpful information that will be useful to these kids for their entire lives.

Another way that I serve my community is by volunteering with Fresh2You mobile produce market. Fresh2You is a mobile produce market that goes to different food deserts and low income communities in Little Rock. The Alliance partnered with the the City of Little Rock, Rock Region Metro, Raising Arkansas and others to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to people who have little access to grocery stores. One of the communities serviced was my grandmother’s neighborhood. She has been living in this neighborhood for nearly 50 years. My grandmother would never shop in her neighborhood for produce because the stores simply didn’t have enough. Most stores didn’t have any produce at all. Working with the Fresh2You market, I am able to help sell fresh fruits and vegetables to people I know, in a neighborhood where I grew up.   My cousins and sister get free fruits and vegetables through a token program that gives free tokens to kids, which they can then use to purchase produce from the bus.  This experience has been very personal and important to me because I have been able help people who I love and care for get the nutritious food they need.

I’ve always wanted to have an impact on my community. I’ve always wanted to serve and educate people in my community with the information and resources they need to live life to the best of their abilities. I knew working at the Alliance through AmeriCorps would change my life but I never expected to make the connections and the impact that I have made. I have learned that education is one of the first steps in combatting hunger and that I can be that educator. I learned that you do not need a ton of money or resources to make an impact. All you need is the opportunity and the heart to serve those who are in need.

Astasha Lewis is an AmeriCorps direct member and grew
up in Little Rock. 
She graduated from the University of
Arkansas at Little Rock with a B.A. in Criminal Justice
and a minor in Non-Profit Leadership Studies. When she
finishes her year of service with the Alliance, Astasha
wants to work with the Boys and Girls Club of Arkansas.