The Pulse Program for Service Learning (PULSE) strives to educate students about social injustice by putting them into direct contact with marginalized populations and social change organizations. Project Bread partners with PULSE to give students the opportunity to intern with Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline (FSH) and gain valuable hands-on experience. This year, we are excited to have two awesome PULSE interns, Morgan Costa and Natalie Esikumo, on our Hotline team!
Morgan Costa grew up in a small town near Scranton, Pennsylvania. She has been riding horses for 11 years and that was a big part of her life growing up. To Morgan, riding is an outlet for stress because you stay focused and cannot be thinking about everything that's plaguing your life outside the barn. Morgan’s biggest influences are her parents. “They have supported and fought for me, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am or even be here without them.”
Currently, Morgan is studying Sociology at Boston College, with hopes of being accepted into a new major, public health and common good. After undergrad, she plans to take a gap year before heading off to medical school where she plans to pursue immunology. During the start of her semester, Morgan was having some serious health issues which limited where she could serve for PULSE. With the help of Boston College, Khara Burns, Senior Director of SNAP Outreach Programs at Project Bread contacted Morgan about possibly serving with Project Bread, and she fell in love with the organization. “Being able to help people despite my physical limitations was very important to me, and Khara and the Hotline allow me to do so.” Every Tuesday and Thursday, she takes calls on the hotline, makes outgoing health referral calls, and helps send out SNAP applications through the mail. She is also one of the people who prescreens individuals for SNAP and schedules their applications with other counselors. Her favorite thing about Project Bread is the people. “Everyone is so nice and welcoming, and you can tell how much they care about their community and the work they are doing.”
Morgan’s interest in anti-hunger work was sparked in her hometown. One of the service opportunities she volunteered for was a Thanksgiving food bank. “It was the first time that I had to question how privileged I was when people around me were not able to afford the luxuries of pillsbury or a small turkey.” In addition to anti-hunger work, Morgan is interested in improving the public transportation in her community. “Public transportation, specifically to medical institutions, is extremely important and detrimental to health.” In her community there are very few options for affordable transportation if you miss the bus, so she wants to bring attention to it.
The fictional character that Morgan most identifies with is Mr. Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice." Like Mr. Darcy, she is more recluse and takes time to truly open up to people but she deeply cares for people and wants to protect them. Morgan’s passion to help others and care for people is very evident in the work she does at Project Bread. Morgan is a lovely addition to the Hotline team, and we are pleased to have her intern at Project Bread.
Natalie Esikumo was born in Boston, MA but raised in Nairobi, Kenya. She now lives in Worcester, MA and loves the liveliness and diversity of her hometown. Natalie loves to volunteer and mentor her little in the Big Brother Big Sister program at Boston College. She is involved in the Lean on Me mental health peer text support program, which has allowed her to help her peers through hard times (anonymously) and further learn about the Boston College community. Natalie’s biggest influence is her mother. “She moved from Kenya to give me the best opportunities. She has taught me much, from building my character to finding my passion and future career. I would not be the person that I am today without my mother.”
Currently, Natalie is studying a double major in Elementary Education and Transformative Educational Studies at Boston College. After undergrad, she plans on doing the fifth-year program at Boston College to get her Master's Degree and later begin teaching in the Boston or Worcester Public Schools systems. Natalie’s interest in anti-hunger work is future oriented for when she is a teacher with her own classroom teaching in a diverse or underserved community. “As a future teacher, serving at Project Bread allows me to become more knowledgeable about food insecurity and programs that alleviate it such as SNAP while also helping my students and their families.”
At Project Bread, Natalie’s work on the Food Source Hotline includes answering phone calls from diverse groups of people and accommodating them based on language and their needs. She also makes outgoing Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) calls to ensure patients are receiving SNAP benefits and have access to food resources. Natalie’s favorite thing about Project Bread is the friendly staff and positive energy. “I recall my first day serving at Project Bread in the fall, walking through the offices felt a bit intimidated, but the unfamiliar faces were so welcoming and greeted me with great enthusiasm and a smile which made me really enjoy and appreciate my experience here.”
Working in an organization focused on hunger has helped her become more knowledgeable and educated about food insecurity and the SNAP program. Personally, Natalie also has a best friend who experienced food insecurity growing up and found value in learning more about it to better empathize with her friend. Through anti-hunger work, she wants to change the stigma surrounding food insecurity. “Most people associate getting food resources with a negative connotation but I believe that it should be normalized, people should be able to get the help they need without feeling ashamed.” After being a part of the Project Bread team, she hopes to continue advancing the topic of food insecurity and sharing the SNAP program with everyone.
The fictional character that Natalie most identifies with is Tiana from "Princess and the Frog" because of her ambition and care for helping others. Tiana shows what it means to sacrifice parts of her life to achieve greatness and become successful which is something that I believe in. Natalie’s ambition and sacrifice is shown in the work she does here at Project Bread using her time to help others access food resources. We are glad to have her as part of our Hotline team.