VISTA Spotlight – Max Kim
The first subject in our series of Indy Hunger Network AmeriCorps VISTA spotlights is Max Kim. Max is the Food Assistance Coordinator VISTA at IHN. As part of his normal responsibilities, Max works with food pantries in and around Marion County, helping them build capacity and get better access to resources. His other roles include helping with other IHN projects including SNAP and WIC marketing and the Food Drop program, which helps pantries get access to trucks and food that otherwise would have been rejected by grocery stores.
Max moved to Indianapolis to work with Indy Hunger Network, but he is originally from Maryland. He studied at George Mason University in Virginia where he earned his degree in International Politics and Government. Max had been wanting to work in a nonprofit organization for some time before he found out about the AmeriCorps VISTA program. He was excited that the program offered the opportunity to move anywhere in the country, and ultimately decided to land in Indianapolis with Indy Hunger Network.
Now almost halfway through his service year with IHN, Max enjoys that no day or task is the same in his position.
“I like the variety of tasks,” Max said. “Some weeks I’ll be running around Marion County helping pantries do reports, assisting with operations, or what have you. Some days I’ll be in meetings discussing and talking with leaders in the area, and some days I’m on my own working.”
One of Max’s biggest tasks in recent months was the essential role he had in the planning and execution of the 2022 Food Pantry Summit. The Summit, which was held in October, brought together over 300 representatives from food pantries in Marion and surrounding counties for a day of networking and information sharing. The event offered Max a new leadership role in helping the event run smoothly.
“I was in charge of volunteers, and them looking to me as a guide was a change of pace. That was something very different than anything I’ve done in my four months,” Max said. “I thought it was a very positive experience. I thought it went super well.”
While the Food Pantry Summit has passed, the work continues for Max and the rest of the Indy Hunger Network team. Up next for him is the conclusion of the IHN grants program cycle, where Max will be part of a committee that reviews grant applications. After that, he will be aiding in the early stages of planning upcoming opportunities for pantry leaders to connect based on feedback from the Pantry Summit. In the meantime, Max offers his endorsement for the Indy Hunger Network VISTA program.
“VISTA is one of the easiest ways to get started in the nonprofit sector,” Max said. “A lot of places assume you already have three to five years of experience and it’s hard, especially coming out of college with maybe a couple internships or a part-time gig. It can be hard to break in. AmeriCorps essentially says that if you’re willing to work for a little less money, but enough to live off of, they’ll take a chance on you.”