Announcing the 2017 Alumni Service Leadership Award Honorees

What do making kimchi, leading a farm camp and promoting farm-to-school regionally have in common? They are all ways to bring FoodCorps’ values to your work, and they’re the impressive careers and passions of our three inaugural William K. Bowes Service Leadership Award honorees: Lauren Rhoades ‘15, Krizl Soriano ‘16 and Rachel Spencer ‘12.

Our honorees work tirelessly in service of building healthy, thriving communities and carrying on the values and mission of FoodCorps.

Rachel Spencer ’12, Award Recipient

As a member of our first class of service members and then our first class of fellows, Rachel has been blazing trails and planting seeds ever since she set foot in Arkansas. Her determined energy, drive and charisma have taken her to graduate school at the University of Arkansas and launched her into her current role as the Southwest Regional Farm to School Lead for the USDA. Needless to say, she’s an inspiration to many.

Watching [Rachel] move from FoodCorps service member to fellow to graduate school student to now the Farm to School Southwest Lead is truly inspiring and shows me how high I should truly aim and what is possible with a jump start from FoodCorps, hard work and a ton of determination.” – Service Member Noa Borkan, AR

She radiates the mission of FoodCorps in all aspects of her life, but especially through her work. “Just like when I was in FoodCorps my favorite part of the job is interacting with and supporting people that want to further local food systems work, specifically farm to school and school garden initiatives. I travel to 800 person towns in Oklahoma to connect school districts with aquaponics farmers, work with cities of 5 million to try and figure out their farm to school sustainability plan, and celebrate the small or large victories of food service directors, state agency leaders, teachers, parent volunteers, community members, and also FoodCorps service members across my 5 states.” Rachel has given so much to FoodCorps, quite literally, as she puts it, her, “blood (food processor blade amongst other things), sweat (goes without saying #southernsummers), and tears (of happiness and of darker times).” We are so proud of Rachel and swell with gratitude how she has devoted her life to the cause of healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities.

Lauren Rhoades ‘15, Award Finalist

After two years of service and one year as a fellow in Jackson, MS, Lauren quickly made herself known as an innovative, passionate entrepreneur who values local food, education and community connection. She spends her days making kimchi, sauer kraut, fermented mustard, kombucha for her business, Sweet & Sauer Jackson. Sweet & Sauer is more than just a business – it’s a vehicle for local economic development and for sharing health with her community.

Never one to brag, Lauren has proven to be humble in her FoodCorps leadership accomplishments and business savvy, making a lasting impact on those around her and changing the food scene of Jackson as we know it.” – Service Member Sarah Hazelnis, MS

And as an educator, Lauren believes that, “fermentation is a great gateway subject to a whole slough of science subjects, art projects, and taste bud adventures. I’ve led fermentation demos at three different elementary schools in Jackson, and am currently working on a curriculum about how to teach fermentation to kids. I also think that introducing parents to new foods is just as important, and talking with parents at the farmers market and through fermentation classes has, I hope, contributed to more health-conscious meals for families at home.”

Krizl Soriano ‘16, Award Finalist

Krizl served in her home state of Connecticut for two years, bringing laughter, commitment and passion to each day to her students and FoodCorps community. As an alum,

[Krizl] is busy with many different jobs in food system work, where she holds strong to the FoodCorps mission of increasing access to and appreciation of healthy food for all.” – Service Member Molly Deegan, CT

As an Assistant Camp Director at Massaro Farm she continues to educate youth about their food and the systems that grow it. She is also a mobile farmers market manager, consultant for Connecticut’s “Put Local on Your Tray” program to increase local foods in schools and even acts as a mentor to current service members through her role with New Britain ROOTS. She has found many ways to continue being a leader in her community, and to Krizl, “to lead is to be a mentor, knowing when to step back, showing gratitude, and most importantly it’s to provide support and motivation those you’re leading. [She] can be anyone’s greatest hype woman – in the workplace, in the pottery studio, in the kitchen, or even sitting in the car during stressful CT traffic.”