Allison Plitman v1Backpack Beginnings volunteer Allison Plitman knew the moment she read about Backpack Beginnings efforts to prevent food insecurity that she wanted to be involved.  As a child growing up in High Point, NC, Allison witnessed first-hand the gratitude of those experiencing hunger as she and her Mom volunteered at Mobile Meals.  Now as a recent college graduate, Allison volunteers in the office to identify larger community needs that can be served by Backpack Beginnings while forging ahead with her passion to prevent food insecurity by stirring excitement among UNCG college students.

In the following Question and Answer segment, Allison describes the journey that led her to Backpack Beginnings.

1) Why did you decide to volunteer for Backpack Beginnings?

Backpack Beginnings was actually already chosen as my partner organization by my larger AmeriCorps program NC Campus Compact. I know they chose Backpack Beginnings because of its incredible growth in such a short amount of time, due of course to the incredible efforts of Parker and all of her other volunteer staff. I specifically sought after this position after reading about Backpack Beginnings in the job description – I just knew that it was the organization that I wanted to devote a year to!

2) What is your interest in food insecurity and have you volunteered in other ways to help fight hunger?

My interest in food insecurity comes from my childhood. When I was about 8 years old, my mother got me and my brothers to volunteer for Mobile Meals, which is a free food delivery nonprofit in High Point that serves the elderly and infirm. I remember just how thankful all of the recipients were to see us bringing them meals. It wasn’t until later when I realized that Mobile Meals allowed for these elderly community members to not have to choose between their medication and their meals, a struggle that I know many face today. It’s incredible how this central fact of getting food can derail all of a person’s plans and personal well-being.

3) What do you do as a volunteer? 

I predominantly work in the office. My position is focused on identifying larger community need – for instance, if a school’s student population is 90% reduced meals and only 15% of them have signed up to receive bags of food from us, what is causing that blockage and how can it be alleviated? Each school is different, so they all need to be looked at separately.

I do get to work directly with volunteers, but I haven’t started yet. I only started working at Backpack Beginnings three weeks ago, so I am very excited to get more of the direct service experience!

4) What has been your most rewarding experience so far?

My most rewarding experience so far has been connecting UNCG students to Backpack Beginnings. My program, NC Campus Compact, is focused not only on the development of my community partner but on connecting college students to local issues. I am based at UNCG, which is where I spend most of my working week. I have spent countless hours speaking to college students about Backpack Beginnings and how they are choosing to fight childhood food insecurity, and students at UNCG at absolutely intrigued and excited! I have already had three separate student groups contact me to set-up volunteering events for them, with one group promising over 40 excited student volunteers.

5) Tell us a little about your background?

I am a recent college graduate, I just got my degree from UNC Asheville. I chose to do AmeriCorps because I knew I wanted to take time between undergraduate and graduate school as I wanted to use that time to give back to the community. I grew up in High Point and my childhood there has made me who I am today, so I knew I wanted to come back to the Piedmont Triad and help children grow up healthy and happy, just like I was lucky enough to do.

Written on 8/28/15 by Carole Perkins