Greater Chicago Food Depository
Commission AmeriCorps State FY 2011
The proposed AmeriCorps program is a twofold approach to meeting the food needs of individuals in Cook County. Half of the AmeriCorps members would meet the emergency food need by working in pantries, the other half would address long term food needs by screening and enrolling individuals in SNAP. Placing AmeriCorps members at host agencies in the Food Depository network, with the goal of improving program support, expanding SNAP outreach and inspiring new volunteerism in communities of unmet need, is the next step in a comprehensive strategy to build the capacity and ensure the long-term stability of the emergency food distribution system in Cook County. The Food Depository is requesting 8 Full Time AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps members would provide several essential functions in this process: Four members would provide on-site assistance to their assigned host agency, recruit new volunteers in the target communities, conduct volunteer training sessions, and provide logistical and training support to host agencies. The additional 4 members would be divided into three coverage areas: Northside, Westside, and Southside of Chicago. Each AmeriCorps member would be responsible for conducting SNAP outreach activities in at least four pre-selected agencies in their region. Outreach activities include SNAP informational sessions, prescreenings, and SNAP application assistance. AmeriCorps members would also follow-up with clients to obtain disposition data and provide case management assistance if requested by the client. AmeriCorps members would develop in-depth knowledge of SNAP policies and procedures and would also participate in meetings with community stakeholders to discuss the latest program developments and issues. In addition, AmeriCorps members would ensure that outreach activities are tracked and recorded as needed for program evaluation and reporting purposes. Additionally, each member will execute one larger, community-level project, designed and executed to address the particular needs of this target community. Goals that member activities will help host agencies in meeting their specific annual goals. Each host agency has identified, as part of its action plan, specific activities and projects linked to the following goals, which the AmeriCorps member will support during their year of service: increase food supply in the community; increase client access to food (such as weekend and evening hours); and link clients to services such as SNAP benefits and job training that help them end their own cycle of poverty.