In the past few months of the new year, we have had many partnership members move into new positions within and outside of their organization. Lydia Walls is one such person who experienced such a change. Lydia started with the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership last summer as a summer AmeriCorps VISTA. After she completed her term, she moved into a program coordinator position at TNP when the previous Trumbull Food Access Coordinator received a new position at TNP. Lydia moved into the position and has hit the ground running from where the previous coordinator left off! Some examples of work Lydia has done since coming on board include piloting a healthy snacks initiative to expand stores’ offerings outside of fruits and vegetables, marketing new locations and stores, bringing new distributors into the network, and coordinating produce orders to newly participating stores in the county.
Beyond her role, Lydia grew up in the Warren area but moved to Michigan for college. After graduating, she returned to invest in her community. She is very physically active and swam competitively in college. Currently she is involved in ultimate frisbee, running, and rock climbing with a group of friends who are working to get a run club active in Warren.
A month ago we had a chance to speak with Lydia about her new position, what she is excited about, and what she hopes to do in the role. We here at HCP are so excited to see where Lydia and our other partners go in their new roles! Check out Lydia’s interview to learn more about her and her role in helping our community become healthier.
What is a Food Access Coordinator/Director?
The Food Access Coordinator role was created to support the work of the Healthy Food Retail Action Team. Today there is a Food Access Coordinator in Trumbull (now Lydia Walls) and a Food Access Director (Sophia Buggs) in Mahoning County. While both roles are moving towards the same goal of increasing food access and decreasing food insecurity, each county has different needs, and as a result, each food access worker implements the program in their county differently. In Trumbull, the program’s primary focus is on community stores, while in Mahoning, the program focuses not just on stores but also agricultural education and food market events. Both Lydia and Sophia work with community stores to offer technical support and connect them with food vendors and local farmers who can get them a variety of affordable and healthy foods.
So far there are 6 community stores in Mahoning and 11 community stores in Trumbull that have healthy food options available in their stores due to the hard work of past and present food access workers. Overall, the positions in both counties work to empower local community stores and our community with what we need to help eliminate food insecurity in neighborhoods that are significantly impacted by poverty.