Vista Members Help Make This a Hunger-Free Summer

This summer, for the first time, the Food Bank is sponsoring 12 federal Summer Food Service Program sites in Tulsa at select libraries and youth centers. Our Culinary Center produces thousands of meals each week and distributes them with the help of several AmeriCorps VISTA (mostly college students) members spending their time in service to the community.
Thomas Von Borstel is a University of Tulsa student and football player. Every morning Thomas starts his day at 5:15 a.m. for summer practice, then is off to the Food Bank by 9:15 a.m. to pack, load, and distribute meals to hungry children eagerly awaiting his arrival.
vistas-loading-food-17-0628-21-1024x683Thomas is from Atlanta, Georgia and came to TU on academic scholarship. He is studying English and education and hopes to teach high school and coach football.
In Atlanta, Thomas worked with homeless families in a variety of programs. He noted that the children he met were all so full of joy in spite of the difficult circumstances they faced. While attending a TU job fair he thought the Food Bank VISTA position felt like a good fit for him.
“The best thing about this summer position is that I am able to be a part of the Tulsa community in a way which I otherwise wouldn’t as a TU student. This job led me into the community and is forming relationships with the children and families we serve.”
When discussing the summer, Thomas noted one of his best moments so far. “One day we were a little late getting to one of our sites. When we finally got there the kids were waiting, but instead of being upset, they ran towards us and gave us hugs.”
While the job has logistic requirements the VISTA’s must meet, there are many intangible components to the job as well. “This is a strong commitment, and I feel so fortunate. The families keep thanking me for being a part of the community. Just a few days ago I noticed a couple of kids having some conflict and they were talking about resolving it in dangerous ways. Now that they know me, I was able to make some other suggestions about resolving it, and they actually listened to me. Afterwards, I was able to show them how much more productive they were. A lot of times kids have adults tell them what not to do, but they don’t always have trusted adults who tell them what to do.”
The Food Bank is fortunate to have so many VISTA’s that take the job of feeding children seriously, and also recognize their role as mentors and teachers to the children in the Summer Feeding Program.