Hello everyone, and welcome back to our VISTA Spotlight Series! Each month we spotlight one of our AmeriCorps VISTA Members and the amazing work they do. Our members and their host sites are the heart and soul of our program, and we want to show our appreciation for their efforts.

This month’s spotlight features Julianna Cesarini serving in the NC Hunger Corps at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. Julianna started service this July after graduating from Warren Wilson College in May.

Before serving Julianna was a Global Studies student and worked with the Bonner Leaders crew where she led community engagement trips for students to participate. In her last semester she was partnered with the Asheville Poverty Initiative and worked with the 12 Baskets Café program. It was here that she found a passion for combating food insecurity and was inspired to apply for AmeriCorps VISTA.

Warren Wilson College is unique as they use an integrated, experiential approach to education wherein each student is placed on a work crew and complete community engagement hours as a requirement to graduate. Julianna supports any program through the Warren Wilson College Center for Community Engagement related to food access. The Center for Community Engagement partners with nonprofit organizations in the Asheville area to support their work and connect students to volunteer opportunities.

In her role as a NC Hunger Corps VISTA, Julianna’s main focus is supporting the on-campus pantry at Warren Wilson, Box of Baguettes, which serves between 100 and 200 individuals each week. She builds capacity by recruiting volunteers to run food pickups and staff the pantry. She has also developed a Food Justice Collective at Warren Wilson. This collective consists of faculty, staff and students who conduct any programming related to food justice. Her goal is to connect individuals in the community to each other to share about the work they’re doing, as well as create a community space to discuss the ongoing issues surrounding food security within the campus and beyond into the community. Through the rest of her service, she is hoping to start an information campaign about food insecurity in western North Carolina, specifically in Swannanoa, where the pantry is located.

Julianna has been able to build capacity for the on-campus pantry and been successful in securing volunteers to be able to staff the pantry while the majority of the campus was away for Fall Break. She has also been able to write and apply for a grant with the help of her supervisor and feels accomplished for having learned this new skill and the process of applying for a grant.

After serving with AmeriCorps VISTA and NC Hunger Corps Julianna plans to use the skills she has developed through the program and pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. She has found a passion for fighting food insecurity and plans to continue on this path!

To learn more about Julianna’s work as an NC Hunger Corps VISTA and the food security initiates and programs at Warren Wilson College, please visit the links below.

Warren Wilson Center for Community Engagement 

Facebook: Warren Wilson College 

Instagram: @box_of_baguettes 

Twitter: @WWCasheville