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EDI Report 2022

At FoodCorps, we’re working toward an ambitious goal: By 2030, every child will have access to food education and nourishing food in school. If we are to achieve this goal, we must center equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in all we do.

Introduction

At FoodCorps, we’re working toward an ambitious goal: By 2030, every child will have access to food education and nourishing food in school. If we are to achieve this goal, we must center equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in all we do. 

This is the second edition of FoodCorps’ annual EDI report, a look at our efforts—and shortcomings—in making our work and our world more just and equitable. To learn more about the creation of this report, we recommend reviewing our first EDI report, which shares more context about the role of EDI in the first ten years of our organization. 

The American school food system has been, and continues to be, deeply shaped by structural racism and classism—forces and systems that have impacted virtually every institution in this nation. In order to realize our mission and build a more just world, we must be fully invested in dismantling those systems. The colonization-authored, enslavement-legislated crisis of food injustice, inequity, and isolation that continues to affect our children challenges us as an organization to find our place of contribution toward that central question of our national identity: do we desire to realize justice for all, or a republic for the few?

FoodCorps is committed to bending the arc toward a democracy where what kids eat, where they live, how they learn, and how they grow up are daily affirmations of equity, justice, and anti-racism. We are committed to partnering with communities where we can help create the conditions for dismantling the inequities and disrupting the disparities that take an unfair toll on children of color and children growing up in low-income households. We see that cycles of discrimination based on race, place, and class both reinforce and are reinforced by this problem we are working against. As such, embodying and advancing equity is a strategic, operational, and moral imperative in our work.

Equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice are constants in our work, and ever-evolving in how they form and inform us, take shape in our mindsets, actions, and policies, and advance the programming, power-building, and policy decisions we make. We know we do not have all the answers, and we seek to always maintain a posture of learning and growth. That is why it’s important to us that we remain forthcoming about our work with you, our partners and communities, and that we share regular updates about our journey. 

As an organization, we are grappling with how to center and operationalize anti-racism in our work consistently, authentically, and non-performatively. We are only at the beginning of answering this central question—one we must struggle with and answer in order for our work to have the greatest impact on students, families, and communities. 

We’ve worked alongside FoodCorps’ teams to make sure this report offers transparency into the processes behind the scenes at FoodCorps, and ongoing accountability for our efforts in EDI. We hope that you’ll continue to follow along with us as we work in service of a more just world for all our nation’s kids. 

Thank you for joining us. 
Curt Ellis, CEORobert S. Harvey, President
-Curt Ellis, CEO, and Dr. Robert S. Harvey, President

2022 EDI Report
Student plants a seedling into the soil of a raised garden bed.

Inside This Report

In the following report, you’ll hear directly from our new Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Kenya Collins, about what’s ahead in FoodCorps’ EDI work. You’ll read an update on FoodCorps’ progress toward our Just FoodCorps goals and learn about some of the projects and priorities that have centered on equity and justice in the past year. We’ll review the trainings, employee resource groups, and demographic data that paint a picture of how FoodCorps invests in a diverse staff and service corps. And finally, we’ll invite you to get involved, whether by sharing FoodCorps resources, joining our corps, or investing in equity at your workplace.

From the VP of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Dear friends,

I’m writing this letter from a place of excitement. Since I was named Vice President of Equity at FoodCorps a little less than a year ago, the organization has been through some big changes and made some important moves toward equity and justice, many of which you’ll learn about in this report. 

But what is it that excites me most? What has me shouting from the rooftops?

It’s that FoodCorps is being intentional about naming what racism has done: how it has impacted the systems we are working to undo, and how it has harmed the communities we are working to serve. We are being explicit in naming and framing racism, and in mobilizing to change it—for ourselves, for our communities, but most importantly, for the kids we serve. 

This report will offer a chance for you to look back on our year in equity work, but personally, I am looking ahead to the future, and all of the work that’s coming up for FoodCorps. 

I am looking to a project spearheaded by our new president, Dr. Robert S. Harvey, in which we are reexamining our values and who we are as an organization. We call it “FoodCorps Next.” 

I am looking to our organizational commitment to anti-racism, and thinking about how we can be even more clear in positioning ourselves at this moment. 

I am looking to innovative ways of building systems that allow us to hold ourselves accountable, measure our impact, and chart a path toward liberation. 

I am looking to a future where we nurture Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) school nutrition professionals, and create opportunities for leadership, mentorship, and professional connections that will ultimately feed communities. 

I am looking to a culture where FoodCorps is a place for BIPOC staff to thrive, and where difference is celebrated for the ways it makes us stronger. 

I am looking to a future iteration of FoodCorps that gives power back to communities, families, and children. And I know that this future is on the horizon. 

We cannot move forward without a solid grounding in our past, and without an understanding that anti-racism and equity are integrated into every facet of our work. I believe FoodCorps is ready for this moment, and I’m excited to see what lies ahead for us. I hope you’ll continue to be with us on the journey. 

In solidarity,

Kenya L. Collins Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Kenya L. Collins
Kenya L. Collins

Our Commitment to Equity

In the past year, we revisited our commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Our drive to bring about food justice for all informs the following commitments:

01

To diversity and inclusion

FoodCorps will strive to create an environment that reflects the diversity of our partner communities in which everyone can show up and feel brave, supported, and valued for the contributions they make to this organization regardless of ability, gender identity, nationality, race, religion, and sexuality. Our program and vision of health will be one that celebrates every body and culture. We will work to recreate our leadership and decision-making structures to center the voices and act upon the direction of people most impacted by our work in the world and systemic oppression writ large.

02

To equity and social justice

FoodCorps will work to shift power, access, and resources within our sphere of influence in order to help create more justice in the world for those most impacted by systemic oppression. We will do this by committing our resources to national, state, and local efforts to create a more equitable school food system, prioritizing communities of color, and centering the needs and perspectives of those most impacted by food injustice when making decisions about how to move forward. We have revised our organizational policies related to compensation, budgeting, recruitment, promotions, and leadership development—for both our staff and our service members—in order to reduce internal inequities in access to power, resources, and opportunity, and we will continue to cultivate a sense of shared collective and individual accountability for upholding our policies and priorities.

03

To anti-racism

At FoodCorps, we recognize that systemic racism is one of the root causes of the problem we are trying to solve and that without actively dismantling it, we will never succeed at creating more equitable access to nourishing food in schools. It is impossible for us to be neutral on this front. If we are not actively working to be anti-racist, then we are complicit in perpetuating racism. We know that dismantling racism takes time, that we have made and will continue to make mistakes, and that it is work that will never be finished. But this cannot be used as an excuse not to do our part. We will start by working to rid ourselves of our saviorism impulses and of the expectation that our staff of color can or should take disproportionate responsibility for fixing the organization. We will provide our entire staff and service corps with the education and tools to recognize and interrupt internalized, interpersonal, and systemic racism and set an expectation that they will put the tools to use as a measure of success. We will name and frame racism when we see it, change ways of working that are embedded in white supremacy culture, and challenge public policies and internal structures of power that reinforce racial inequality.

Our Year in EDI

On our way to becoming the very organization we’d like to see in the world, this past year we went through a major organizational restructure leading to the creation of a new leadership structure, new departments, and new positions, as well as refreshed mission and vision statements and a new, more accessible website. We believe these changes allow us to distribute power more intentionally across the organization, and to lean into the central role of equity in our work.

Read on to learn more about the details of these changes, and more about our EDI work in the past year.

The Just FoodCorps Framework

In 2020, our then-VP of Equity, Tiffany McClain, developed a framework for measuring FoodCorps’ progress in becoming a more just and equitable organization. She also created SHIFTING, a tool for approaching our work with an equity mindset, explained in greater detail on our website

Each department at FoodCorps sets goals that together, lead us toward becoming more equitable in our work and our culture, using the Just FoodCorps Framework and the SHIFTING approach as guides. Here’s how our teams are making progress toward those goals.

Direct Service Program

 EDI Goals

  • Implement tangible practices, protocols, and mutual accountability towards equitable, responsive, and inclusive approaches to our work
  • Implement SHIFTING for service members and integrate it with program management
  • Recruit more BIMPOC (Black, Indigenous, Multracial, and People of Color) and local service member candidates

 Progress Toward Goals

  • Built out a partnership planning process that centers local visions, reflects the voices of community stakeholders, and accounts for multi-year goal-setting
  • Built a Partnership Selection Framework that incorporates a clear and consistent set of criteria for assessing existing and prospective partnership opportunities for equity
  • Introduced training on recognizing anti-racism in service member candidates; recruited and selected greater representation of BIMPOC and local service members than ever
External Relations

 EDI Goals

  • Foster a transparent organizational culture in which staff understand and have a role to play in FoodCorps’ revenue streams
  • Collect demographic data and other information about donors and analyze the impact of this information on FoodCorps
  • Prioritize building policy partnerships with BIMPOC-led organizations
  • Determine sustainable and equitable staffing and resourcing for state policy work

 Progress Toward Goals

  • Worked with funding partners to add equity and anti-racism questions to RFPs and rubrics for equity-centered grantmaking
  • Revised our vetting guidelines to ensure prospective partners align with our equity values 
  • Started conversations about how to bring funders along with us on our anti-racism journey
  • Launched a State Policy Learning Pilot to better understand what state teams and local communities needed for policy work
  • Began working on templates for site partnerships and site visits to better center equity and local communities’ visions for the work

Listening and learning

In 2022, the Biden administration announced an upcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health—the first conference of its kind in more than 50 years. In order to inform our policy recommendations for the conference, we held three regional listening sessions with education and school nutrition leaders from around the country, the overwhelming majority of whom identified as BIMPOC. This experience invited us to situate our policy recommendations in the lived experiences of grassroots voices, to reinvest power in communities, and to listen to and learn from those most affected by policy changes.

Read the report
 
How We Communicate

 EDI Goals

  • Ensure FoodCorps is sharing one unified narrative about our work
  • Ensure FoodCorps shares stories ethically and equitably

 Progress Toward Goals

  • Updated our mission, vision, and brand language with input from FoodCorps’ staff and board
  • Distributed our new language in a way that was easy and accessible for staff
  • Launched a new, ADA-compliant website
  • Drafted a new SHIFTING framework for story-sharing with input from service members
  • Shifted the stories we tell to center joy, agency, and impact, with the full involvement of the people in those stories
  • Added captions and alt text to photos used in our digital platforms
Evaluating Our Work

 EDI Goals

  • Develop systems and evaluation practices that move FoodCorps from transactional measurements to a transformational, liberatory place that centers and shifts power to our communities and is free from harm

 Progress Toward Goals

  • Reduced the amount of time service members, schools, and site supervisors spent filling out forms by shortening forms and only collecting information that will be used
  • Welcomed an evaluation leader who brings expertise in equity-centered liberatory evaluation
Our Organizational Operations

 EDI Goals

  • Promote a culture of learning, empathy, and growth
  • Promote a culture of feedback and accountability

 Progress Toward Goals

  • Offered all-staff trainings on giving and receiving feedback
  • Codified our internal hiring process
  • Offered an equity-centered mediation training to People staff and Equity Ambassadors
  • Introduced 360 reviews for members of the Executive Team
  • Began including SHIFTING in performance reviews
  • Introduced quarterly pulse surveys to determine employee satisfaction

Our New President

In February 2022, we announced the hiring of Dr. Robert S. Harvey, an educator, community strategist, advocate for justice and equity, and writer, as FoodCorps’ first president. Dr. Harvey joined FoodCorps from East Harlem Scholars Academies, where he served as superintendent, and also has a robust background in education equity. As a former COO of a historically Black college, a two-time author on abolitionist practice in education, and a Pahara Institute Fellow, among other credentials, Dr. Harvey brings deep expertise and leadership in anti-racism work. As president, he co-leads FoodCorps alongside CEO Curt Ellis, propelling us toward our 2030 goal with an eye toward organizational equity and culture.

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Dr. Robert S. Harvey

Equity Highlights

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    Stipend increases

    FoodCorps faces challenges when it comes to compensating our service members, including both the AmeriCorps mandated maximum living allowance and the philanthropic contributions needed to sustain higher stipends. This year, we were able to raise service member stipends from $26,000 to $32,500 for high cost-of-living areas, and from $22,000 to $27,500 for other areas. Starting in August 2023, we will be raising stipends for all service members to $33,000—the maximum allowable by Public Health AmeriCorps. While this is a significant moment for FoodCorps, we recognize that this still falls short of a livable wage for many of our service members. With the support of our philanthropic partners and site partners—who have been crucial in funding these increases and allowing us to better live our values—we’re committed to finding ways to continue investing in our service corps.

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    Food Operators & Leaders of Color in Schools (FOLCS) Network

    In 2020, we launched a program for service members, alumni, school nutrition professionals, and those aspiring to this career to connect around leadership development, mentorship, and networking. Since the launch of this program (initially called the BIMPOC School Nutrition Leadership Network, and now called FOLCS), we’ve led workshops on leadership, career development, and equity; held a convening on equity leadership; launched a mentorship program; and convened school nutrition professionals to develop a framework for culturally relevant school meals. 

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    Bringing in body positivity

    This year, FoodCorps leaned into body positivity and dismantling diet culture as imperatives in our work. We partnered with author and activist Virgie Tovar on a series of staff and service member trainings about body positivity and fat acceptance. We honored Eating Disorder Awareness Week by sharing original blog posts and community resources, and we created a new staff and service member support group focused on eating disorders. And our Service Member Action Committee, or SMAC, published a children’s book about body positivity titled How to Make Friends With a Carrot. We have more work ahead in unlearning body shame and fatphobia, concepts that have roots in racist stereotypes, but the programming developed over the past year is an important start. 

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    Equity-driven funding

    FoodCorps, alongside a growing roster of justice-focused organizations, was fortunate to receive a catalytic gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. This funding—a large commitment of unrestricted support, awarded with minimally burdensome application and reporting requirements—sets the standard for what equity-driven philanthropy can look like. In the use of these funds, FoodCorps is proud to be making immediate progress toward long standing equity goals like increasing service member stipends, while “granting ourselves the time” (see: our SHIFTING framework) to make more intentional long-term investments in our work. In addition to this process, we also ushered in a revised funder matrix for evaluating prospective new funders from an EDI perspective. This matrix helps us to make sure our potential funding partners align with our values. 

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    Culturally responsive school nutrition

    The past school year marked the first time that our service members could be placed into one of two service tracks: Food Education or School Nutrition. One of the primary responsibilities of School Nutrition Service Members (SNSMs) is to introduce and expand culturally responsive menu items that align with kids’ cultures and local communities. In the pilot year of this program, SNSMs played important roles in helping school districts introduce more culturally responsive foods, a key measure for helping students feel their identities and cultures are valued and celebrated.

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Student gives a thumbs up to the butternut squash taste test event at her school (Newark, NJ)

People & Programming

Take a look at the ways we invest in our people, who take the lead in making FoodCorps a more just and equitable place.

Trainings

We’re committed to training our staff and service members on issues of equity, justice, and anti-racism. All new staff at FoodCorps are required to attend Undoing Racism, a multiple-day external training led by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB). Rachel Willis, founder of Elevating Equity and a FoodCorps board member, offers staff and service members trainings throughout the year focused on equity and anti-racism. Staff are also trained on transgender and nonbinary inclusion, and have the option to take a mental health first aid training. 

Disability justice

For the first time, this year all staff and service members were required to attend a training titled Interrupting Ableism and Connecting Food Justice to Disability Justice. Led by social justice educator TL Lewis, FoodCorps staff and corps members learned about the ways ableism shows up in a variety of spaces and how disability justice is connected to undoing other systems of oppression.

Staffers of FoodCorps’ Onyx Crown Collective (OCC), an employee resource group for Black staff, celebrate at their first in-person retreat (Washington, D.C.)

Staff and Service Member Groups

FoodCorps staffers and service members convene, collaborate, and co-create in a variety of equity-centered community spaces. These spaces serve to deepen a sense of belonging for our staff and service members, and to create opportunities to connect over shared experiences. Our BIMPOC, White Folx Working Toward Anti-Racism (WFWTAR), and LGBTQ+ affinity each have two iterations — an ERG (Employee Resource Group) for staff and an affinity group for service members — that occasionally collaborate on ideas and projects. Groups meet monthly or quarterly.

BIMPOC

The mission of the BIMPOC ERG at FoodCorps is to support one another, celebrate diversity, build community, and discuss how BIMPOC culture and experiences can and should show up to inform and influence the work and culture at FoodCorps. As FoodCorps conversations about equity and white-dominant workspaces evolve, this ERG creates an accessible forum for BIMPOC staff to surface ideas, learn from one another, advocate, organize, lead, and hold the organization accountable to continue lifting equity and antiracist values at FoodCorps.

White Folx Working Toward Anti-Racism (WFWTAR)

For FoodCorps to become a just and equitable organization, racial justice work must not fall on the shoulders of colleagues of color. The mission of White Folx Working Toward Anti-Racism is for white staff at FoodCorps to hold themselves and each other accountable in showing up individually and collectively in FoodCorps’ org-wide journey toward anti-racism. White folx created this group to understand how their behaviors cause harm and to identify ways they might be better, and to challenge each other to step into discomfort and build skills to show up more actively as anti-racists.

LGBTQ+

The mission of the LGBTQ+ ERG is to create a space for LGBTQ+ staff and service members to connect, share ideas, advocate for change within the organization, and support one another. Building community among folx who identify as LGBTQ+ is an important part of helping this group of staff feel welcome at FoodCorps. Uplifting the voices of LGBTQ+ people helps the entire organization work toward its goal of being inclusive, and ensuring that every colleague feels a sense of belonging.

Equity Ambassadors

Convened by the Equity team, a cross-departmental network of staff representatives known as the Equity Ambassadors helps to champion EDI initiatives within their department’s sphere of influence, promote communication and consistency throughout the organization, and create systems of accountability at the individual and departmental levels. Equity Ambassadors serve as cheerleaders and advocates for equity within their departments, work with team members and VPs to draft goals and make decisions with equity at the center, and serve as messengers for their team’s work to the VP of Equity, other Ambassadors, and the entire organization.

SMAC (Service Member Action Committee)

Now in its second year, the Service Member Action Committee (SMAC) is a service member-led committee representative of each region and consisting of BIMPOC and LGBTQ+ members serving in different community settings. This committee invites service members into crucial conversations and gives more opportunities for their voices to be a part of co-creating the service program they lead in their communities each day. Through their continued partnership, SMAC and FoodCorps’ Training and Alumni team strive to elevate and honor the service member experience through affinity groups, learning communities, and ample opportunities and methods for engaging all service members in conversations and work around creating a better FoodCorps.

A space for community

In June 2022, the Onyx Crown Collective, FoodCorps’ employee resource group for Black staff, convened at a retreat in Washington, D.C. for community building, fellowship, and connection. It was the first in-person gathering dedicated to FoodCorps’ Black staff, and the first time many staffers had met in person because of the pandemic. “I left the retreat feeling like I have a real community in FoodCorps, and since then have felt like I can show up in my role as truly myself,” said Myriah Wallace. “After months of Zoom meetings, I don’t even have the words to express how healing and impactful it was for me to hug and be hugged, to feel the way someone enters a room, and so much more.”

Expanding our capacity

We made a series of investments in growing the capacity of our Equity team in the past year. In addition to bringing on a new senior director staff position on the Equity team and promoting another staffer to a director role, we also welcomed five new staffers to the Equity Ambassadors collective (a part-time role staffers fill alongside their other work). This expansion allows for greater representation across teams and a more robust and diverse group of folks to provide input on equity-related projects and programs at FoodCorps. 

Accountabilibuddies

Throughout the past year, co-founder and CEO Curt Ellis met regularly with a group of BIMPOC colleagues who volunteered to serve as thought partners and heart partners in his efforts to understand the impacts of white leadership norms and shift toward a more equity-advancing approach. Over the course of their sessions, the Accountabilibuddies team built relationships, waded into hard conversations, and became a trusted source of input as Curt decided to enter into a shared leadership model and welcome Dr. Robert S. Harvey as FoodCorps’ first President.

Demographics

For the first time in FoodCorps’ history, half of our leadership team, staff and Board identify as BIMPOC. We’re also investing in recruiting more BIMPOC service members, because we see the continued progress in building a service corps that reflects the communities we serve, and we know it leaves a lasting impact on kids to have educators who look like them and share their experiences.

Here’s how the people who make up FoodCorps think about their own identities. 

Staff

Gender

  •   Female (88)
  •   Male (8)
  •   Nonbinary (2)

Ethnicity

  •   Asian (9)
  •   Black or African American (22)
  •   Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (1)
  •   Hispanic or Latine (10)
  •   White (44)
  •   Prefer not to say (7)
  •   Two or more races (5)

LGBTQ+

  •   Yes (13)
  •   No (20)
  •   Unknown (62)
  •   Prefer not to say/prefer to self-describe (3)

Board

Gender

  •   Female (7)
  •   Male (6)

Ethnicity

  •   Asian (1)
  •   Black or African American (2)
  •   Indigenous (1)
  •   Hispanic or Latine (3)
  •   White (6)

Service Members

Gender

  •   Female (170)
  •   Male (17)
  •   Nonbinary (9)
  •   Unknown (7)
  •   Prefer not to say/ Prefer to self-describe (5)

Ethnicity

  •   Arab-American/ Middle Eastern (4)
  •   Hispanic or Latine (30)
  •   Asian (11)
  •   White (132)
  •   Black or African American (39)
  •   Other (4)
  •   Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander (1)
  •   Two or more races (34)
  •   Indigenous (11)

LGBTQ+

  •   Yes (70)
  •   No (112)
  •   Unknown (6)
  •   Prefer not to say/ prefer to self-describe (20)

Note: Data on service member ethnicity accounts for self-identifying within more than one category. LGBTQ+ status was not available for our board and we faced some challenges in collecting this information from staff, but we are working on ways to effectively collect and measure this information in the future.

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Get Involved

This report is one of many opportunities to share our equity learnings with our community. If you feel moved to do so, here’s what you can do next.

Organizations to Support

The following organizations and people have been instrumental in supporting us along our racial equity journey.

Nita Baum and Kelli Doss of b*free have served as EDI consultants to our executive team, providing coaching and support as we chart our equity work.

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) led the Undoing Racism trainings that provided foundational knowledge and skills for many of our staff. 

The Momentum Collaborative facilitated a formative 2019 staff retreat and provided thoughtful feedback and recommendations on our next moves.

Beth Zemsky provided early training around intercultural organizational development.

The Management Center provided management training focused on uplifting people of color in management and on anti-racist leadership for white managers.

The Transgender Training Institute trained several of our staff in leading transgender and nonbinary inclusion workshops for staff and service members.

Elevating Equity, founded by Board Member Rachel Willis, provides foundational equity trainings for staff and service members.

Virgie Tovar provided transformative educational opportunities and held space for staff and service members in unlearning fatphobia and embracing body positivity.

Talila “TL” Lewis of Freedom Mapping Consulting offered a thoughtful and accessible training on ableism and disability justice.

Take Action

We are not the first organization to dedicate time and space to EDI accountability, and we will not be the last. We encourage our fellow organizations, especially those with historically white leadership, to do some similar reflection, and we’re open to conversations about how we can support one another. Here are some ways you can get involved:

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    Reach out!

    Drop us a line at edireport@foodcorps.org to share your thoughts, comments, or to inquire about EDI efforts at your organization.

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    Learn more.

    Visit our Equity & Inclusion page to learn more about our EDI efforts.

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    Share our resources.

    Visit The Skillet, our home for news, stories, and resources, to find educational tools you can bring to your school or community.

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    Join the corps.

    Advance equity in your community through food education and nourishing meals. Learn more about service with FoodCorps and join our email list to be notified of key application dates.

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A FoodCorps service member and volunteer work together in a greenhouse at Fort Stanton Urban Farm (Washington, D.C.)