7 Reasons Why We’re Celebrating 2017

Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. We’ve had to fight for the existence of AmeriCorps, and we’ve seen our school lunch guidelines relaxed despite taking a stand against it. Still, we believe that big things are possible, and we believe in celebrating our successes.

Thank you to our donors, friends, and partners for your role in making these successes possible. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to serve our nation’s schools, getting kids to fall in love with healthy food and eat it every day.

7 Reasons Why We’re Celebrating 2017

1.  This super-excited kid:

“When I first met this third grader, he didn’t smile much. Which is why I love this photo of him eating his ‘garden on a cracker’ so much. He looks so excited to be eating veggies and hummus. There were many photos taken the day I did that lesson with the third graders, and in every one of them, he is smiling. I could tell that he was enjoying himself. A week later, I went to their classroom and as soon as I walked in, I saw him and he lit up when he saw me. He had the biggest smile. It was the sweetest thing. Even though I was only able to see these students for one year of their lives, seeing their smiling faces each day was the best gift. I am so thankful for the year that I was able to serve in FoodCorps.” —Kimberly Miramontes, CA, ’17

2.  This sign of success:

3.  This important gathering:

In October, a group of 15 of native, multiracial, and alumni of color convened in Atlanta to talk about finding a voice in majority white spaces. The gathering took place over the course of three days, and the group had opportunities to build their network, set personal goals, and refine their tools for finding a sense of safety.

4.  This school lunch:

Our partners in Hawai’i are mobilizing to get local, indigenous foods on school menus. In May, the Kohala school, a FoodCorps site, launched the first farm to school pilot in a Hawaiʻi public school! The food service program is converting to scratch cooking, local sourcing, and culturally-relevant food items. On this plate: beef laulau, poi, lomi tomato, ʻuala, and an orange.

As one participant put it: “Today I witnessed about 50 high school students stampede into the cafeteria at Kohala School. They got in trouble for running, but it was incredible to see how excited these kids were for lunch.”

5.  This FoodCorps alumna:

Service members go on to do pretty amazing things. Rachel Spencer received our inaugural FoodCorps Alumni Service Leadership Award this year. She works for the USDA, helping food service directors get more local foods into our nation’s schools. As a member of FoodCorps’ very first cohort of AmeriCorps members, she’s one of our longest-standing alumni.

6.  That time a service member helped get free school breakfast into a whole district:

FoodCorps member Ailish Dennigan is a 2016-2017 recipient of Share Our Strength‘s Breakfast After the Bell grant. The grant provided funding and guidance to launch a breakfast cart pilot project at her service site, Brookside Elementary School in Norwalk, Connecticut. Over the course of just a few weeks, her school more than doubled breakfast participation. Now, the entire district is adopting the program!

7.  This policy win:

Back in July, a bill supporting Farm to School and School Garden grant funding in Oregon was passed unanimously by Oregon’s legislature, preserving the $4.5 million program available to schools statewide.

Curt Ellis, CEO and Co-Founder of FoodCorps, said, “At a time of so many hard choices in our state budget, FoodCorps is thrilled to see the Oregon legislature investing in farm to school programming and the dividends it will bring for our kids, our farmers and ranchers, and our communities. This commitment will strengthen Oregon’s farm economy, while helping to ensure that children across the state are well-nourished and ready to learn.”