Get to know our Summer Meals Summer Associates
Highlighting our AmeriCorps VISTAs

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More than one in four children in California go to bed feeling hungry each night. When most children get their meals at school, summer is a particularly vulnerable time as they take a break from school. In summer, many of these children do not know where their next meal is coming from and we may see a rise in food insecurity. United Way’s Summer Meals program aims to address this issue of child food insecurity during these warm months. Summer Meals is part of United Way’s current Healthy Meals Program sites which provides access to free and nutritious meals.

United Way is fortunate to have had three AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates on board to help with our Summer Meals program. Summer Associates have been helping to increase participation through various strategies during the summer. 

Summer Associates have been working with site staff and volunteers to create and enhance programming, create curriculum and implement enrichment activities for participating youth. Get to know the Summer Associates:

Arbie Manuel

Hometown: Quezon City, Philippines 

When did your service start? June 5, 2017

What are you currently working on at United Way? I am currently working on outreach for the Summer Meals program.

Why did you decide to be an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate? Ever since I moved here, I noticed that there  is a great need for public outreach programs such as the Summer Meals program.

What have you learned since joining the team as a VISTA? Collaboration is key. Everyone in the office works together for a common purpose – to end poverty through financial, educational, and nutritional assistance.

What have been some of the challenges you encountered and how did you overcome and/or learn from them? Planning our own agenda has been difficult lately since most of the times we are called to sites.

What is a 5 word statement to sum up your VISTA experience thus far? VISTAs promote collaboration, inclusivity, and empowerment!

What’s next after your time as a VISTA? I am an aspiring forensic scientist so I would want to intern at the Sacramento County Crime Lab!

Little known fact about yourself: I enjoy travelling and trying different types of cuisine.

Juan Alba

Hometown: Sacramento, California 

When did your service start? June 5, 2017

What are you currently working on at United Way? I am working as a VISTA Summer Associate, specializing in community outreach.

Why did you decide to be an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate? I decided to become an AmeriCorps VISTA because I want to get professional experience in which I feel I am making a difference in my community. During summer break, I could have been working at a fast-food chain restaurant, and despite being paid more there, my work would have seemed meaningless and unending. Working for United Way California Capital Region makes me feel that I am an important part of the community.

What have you learned since joining the team as a VISTA? I have learned that in order for an organization to work, such as United Way, people must work together in a friendly, welcoming, and passionate environment such as the one present in the office.

What have been some of the challenges you encountered and how did you overcome and/or learn from them? I have encountered the problem of not being able to cover as much ground as we can with my VISTA team when giving out flyers. Walking around finding businesses and poles to hang up the flyers is very tiring work, and I have learned that it is best when working as a team. It takes patience, fun personalities, and compromise, to accomplish tasks like this.

What is a 5 word statement to sum up your VISTA experience thus far? I love the people here. 

What’s next after your time as a VISTA? After finishing my time as a VISTA, I plan on starting my freshman year at UC Berkeley studying Nutritional Sciences. In the far future, I hope to get my Master’s degree in Food Science, and hopefully get a job working as a Food Technician.

Little known fact about yourself: I know how to overtone sing.

Bridget Karlsson

Hometown: Granite Bay, California 

When did your service start? June 5, 2017

What are you currently working on at United Way? I am currently working on the Summer Meals Program for the youth in local communities by helping them receive free nutritious meals. I am part of the Summer Meals Outreach Specialist team.

Why did you decide to be an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate? I decided to be an AmeriCorps VISTA in Sacramento because I have lived here my whole life and I want to help be the change that Sacramento needs.

What have you learned since joining the team as a VISTA? Since joining the VISTA team, it has taught me that if you want to inspire change you must work together to help make it positive, stronger, and better.

What have been some of the challenges you encountered and how did you overcome and/or learn from them? Because we don’t have a big team, it is hard to cover a lot of ground when you are doing outreach across Sacramento. How I overcome this is to not stress too much about the issue and cover as much ground as I possibly could because some information about Summer Meals is better than no information.

What is a 5 word statement to sum up your VISTA experience thus far? Giving back is very rewarding.

What’s next after your time as a VISTA? Because I am only a summertime associate, I might apply to be a fulltime employee here at United Way.

Little known fact about yourself: This past Spring I lived in Ireland for 5 months because I did a study abroad at the University College Cork.

Summer Meals will be distributed through early August. Text “FOOD” to 877-877 for a site near you!