The PORCH Student Ambassador Program Makes It Easy for High School and College Students to Fight Hunger
Young adults have long been central to the PORCH model, serving as neighborhood volunteers, raising money for hunger relief through various fundraisers or lending a hand at food collecting or sorting events.
PORCH’s new Student Ambassador Program makes it even easier for high school and college students to turn their desire to help into action. Through the program, PORCH provides food insecurity data, social media tools, and a playbook on how to conduct PORCH pop-up food drives so Student Ambassadors can make an immediate contribution to their neighbors in need and serve as a catalyst for creating a sustainable local hunger relief program.
Ambassador Mark Litzinger, 17, who became aware of PORCH through his mother, researched the new ambassador program and reached out to PORCH to learn more. He loved the idea of the program and felt the neighborhood model was a great way for him and his friends to get involved in hunger relief.
Student ambassadors have a key role in educating their community about the facts of food insecurity in their area, as well as holding pop-up food drives to support local pantries and help source new volunteers for the organization.
Mark engaged with his neighborhood HOA (homeowners associations are very common in the South) to get their support for his food drive and the PORCH monthly collection model. Through the guidance of PORCH Pender Chapter Leader Jodi Tolbert, and promotional assets offered by the program, he spread the word through social media, and put up flyers in common community areas. He then held his first pop-up food drive in his neighborhood of Landfall in his hometown of Wilmington, N.C.
Thanks to the generosity of his neighbors, he was able to collect the equivalent of 200 pounds of food to support Mother Hubbard’s Pantry in downtown Wilmington.
But perhaps more importantly, he distributed postcards and spoke to dozens of people about getting more involved with PORCH. One mother and daughter pair are interested in becoming neighborhood coordinators. This is the exact goal of the program – students engaging their community to solicit volunteers to build a sustainable source of food for a local pantry.
“The part I liked the most was bridging the gap between houses and food pantries,” Mark says. “I know how hard it is to get out and volunteer or donate. Our goal is to make it easier for the community.”
Nationally, more than 10% of Americans, including children in every town, don’t have enough to eat every day. Mark, a junior at New Hanover High School, adds that a lot of people understand that food insecurity is a big problem in the Wilmington area, but it’s not necessarily top of mind on a daily basis.
Having volunteered at a couple of soup kitchens on a few occasions, Mark has always known he wants to give back more. “PORCH making it easier for our busy and hardworking community to get involved is what hooked me,” he says.
What would Mark say to other students interested in getting involved with PORCH?
“I would say, absolutely look into it. It’s a great organization that is going to make a big impact on our communities. More people means more help. That’s what everyone needs.”
Student ambassadors make a six-month commitment to:
- Spread the truth about food insecurity in your home or college town – PORCH provides food insecurity facts and education
- Conduct a pop-up food drive – to introduce our model to your community and get people working with each other
- Connect PORCH with people and partners – who want to continue the effort with a PORCH Chapter
Those interested in the program can learn more at www.porchcommunities.org/students