As the Foodbank’s Mobile Programs Coordinator, Maya handles the setup and operation of our mobile distributions in the counties we serve in Missouri and Illinois.
Maya works with our partners to ensure we can quickly and safely distribute food to as many people as possible at our mobile events. Maya moved to Glen Carbon, IL, from California. Shortly after she started at the Foodbank, Maya was tasked with disaster relief distributions after flooding impacted areas of our region. She has done an awesome job of connecting agencies, volunteers and community members to the Foodbank. Get to know Maya by reading her staff interview!
- What do you miss most about California and what do you like best about Illinois?
There is so much to miss about California, but I definitely miss being able to see my family and being able to go to the beach on a whim. It has been a challenging transition, to say the least, but I have worked to get adjusted to the area. The one thing that I absolutely love about Illinois and St. Louis is the fall! California really doesn’t have big season changes, so being able to see all of the trees change color has been my favorite part.
- What excites you about mobile distribution?
Mobile distributions are unique and I love organizing them. What excites me the most is that I have the opportunity to provide people with fresh and shelf stable foods that are healthy while also having important conversations about food access with the clients we serve and our program partners. I believe that the interactions we have with the clients and partners are crucial to our operation and I am able to get feedback on how to improve the program so that we can continuously grow. I am always so overwhelmed with the gratitude I receive and the stories that I hear. It really motivates and pushes me to work harder for our community members.
- Why should volunteers get involved with mobile distribution volunteer opportunities?
Mobile distributions are a great way to get to see the various communities we work within a different light. You are hands-on with the client while handing out food and get to have those interpersonal interactions that you would not always get when volunteering inside the Foodbank. It is also a great way to see the different models of food distributions, i.e. drive through or farmers market style.
- In your first few months here, you’ve been an instrumental part of the Foodbank’s disaster relief efforts. Can you share a little about your disaster relief experience?
Working with disasters is something that is completely new to me and it has been a great learning experience. With the flooding that impacted communities within our region, we were problem-solving ways to get food and cleaning supplies to the people who did not have access to stores. We worked on finding the right partnerships within the various communities to distribute food/supplies, collaborated with the IL and MO Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) to participate in Multi Agency Resource Centers, and worked with Feeding America to get disaster product that would be most beneficial for people who had been impacted.
The moment that really made the greatest impact for me was when we did the distribution in Hardin, IL on Saturday, June 8th. On Friday at 3pm, we got approved to go into Hardin to do a distribution for Saturday by IDOT and we scrambled to find a location that was willing to let us use the space. Once we secured a space with St. Norbert’s Church, we spread the word for the distribution through the church, Facebook pages designated for the floods, and emails to our community partners. We did not know what to expect or how many community members would be there to help to distribute food or receive food. When we pulled into the space with our two Foodbank Trucks, we were greeted by 40 volunteers who were ready to help distribute the food. Within an hour and a half, we distributed over 20,000lbs of food and hour to over 170 families. It was amazing to see how quickly the community responded to support each other during that devastating time.
- What’s something you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy gardening, playing indoor soccer, and traveling.
- What’s your favorite restaurant or food that you’ve had since moving to the St. Louis area?
Since moving to St. Louis area, I have really enjoyed trying out the different BBQ spots, the different breweries, and of course, custard. The custard has been life-changing!
Learn more about the mobile programs that Maya handles on our website!