VISTA Impact Story: Reagan

VISTA Impact Story: Reagan

Reagan Van Coutren 

Abilene Hunger Coalition- Food Security Initiative VISTA

Reagan Van Coutren is in her fourth month of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Texas Hunger Initiative, helping to build the Abilene Big Country Hunger Coalition in Abilene, Texas. Reagan has spent this time updating internal and external communications, meeting with potential stakeholders, researching available grants, and organizing coalition meetings. The budding Abilene Big Country Hunger Coalition has had three meetings thus far, with plans for a strategic planning retreat in the works.  

Reagan has built the capacity of this coalition by bringing community members and organizations together, ensuring up-to-date information on local resources remains available, and documenting research and best practices for long-term coalition sustainability. A new website for the coalition that lists programs, team members, and local resources. Through the coalition’s social media pages, Reagan has worked to raise awareness of Abilene and Taylor County hunger issues by researching, creating, and sharing graphics that illustrate local hunger and poverty statistics.  

Additionally, Reagan has worked to support the coalition’s pilot program, the Free Summer Meals Program, which fills the three-week gap in free meal services between the end of the Abilene Independent School District’s summer meals service and the beginning of the school year. Reagan has worked on social media marketing, traditional media contacts, flyer and graphic creation, and surveys in support of the program. This program started in 2018 with only 3 sites and 1100 meals served. In 2020, after shifting to a curbside model and offering 11 meal sites all over town, the Abilene Big Country Hunger Coalition served 8,932 meals. The 2021 Free Summer Meals Program runs from July 26-August 13, and with 13 locations and curbside still available, they hope to serve even more meals to Abilene and Taylor County kids, families, and other community members this year!  

SEE CURRENT VISTA OPENINGS AND LINKS TO APPLY!

Baylor University Garland School of Social Work
811 Washington Ave.
Waco, Texas 76701
(254) 710-6900