It has been seven eventful, inspiring years here at FoodCorps, and I find myself feeling deep gratitude for how far we’ve come and for the opportunities that lie ahead. Here are seven things I’m grateful for right now:
1. Our (225!) Thoughtful AmeriCorps Service Members
Earlier this month, an important discussion took place on the FoodCorps service member listserv. Thanksgiving can be a challenging holiday to teach: How do we provide culturally responsive lessons that honor the contributions of First Nations people in a way that children can appreciate and understand? Our service members engaged in thoughtful dialogue, sharing a variety of ideas and resources for how to use our country’s biggest food holiday as an entry point into discussing America’s many histories and food traditions.
2. Our (605!) Amazing Alumni
An awe-inspiring 89% of our 2016 service members are now working in fields like education, school food leadership, and policy and advocacy—careers that advance our goal of nurturing a nation of healthy children. These include Marlie Wilson (’13), who organizes local-food procurement trainings for schools through Wisconsin Department of Agriculture; Alyssa Charney (’13), who leads the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s work on farm bill conservation policy; and Charles Greenlea (’15), Program Director at FoodCorps partner organization Habesha Inc. in his hometown of Atlanta.
3. Our Dedicated Community Partners
Community partnerships are what make our impact possible and lasting. From school principals like Renee Risley at King Elementary in Van Buren, Arkansas, to community-based organizations like New Britain ROOTS in New Britain, Connecticut, to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Somerset, Maine, our extended FoodCorps family helps build a better FoodCorps.
4. Our Passionate Staff
The FoodCorps team is full of talented, enthusiastic folks that make me excited to come to work every day. Policy Director Kumar Chandran, formerly the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, brings his deep knowledge of the nutrition policies to our newly launched D.C. office. Lucy Flores, FoodCorps’ first employee, is now leading a project to reimagine school cafeterias as places where every child is not just nourished, but welcomed and included. Our California Program Director Jackie Hemann, who joined us this summer after 18 years at Playworks, is helping us build and deliver a powerhouse program in Oakland. Former Recruitment Director Tiffany McClain is ensuring we integrate a diversity and inclusion lens in all that we do in her newly formed role as Director of Organizational Equity and Inclusion.
5. Everyone Who Stepped Up to Protect AmeriCorps & National Service
Thank you for using your voice to stand up for national service! It is because of your action that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year 2018 budget that protects funding for AmeriCorps, the national service program that fuels FoodCorps’ efforts to connect kids to healthy food in schools across the country.
As part of our nationwide network of champions for child health, you are helping FoodCorps create a better future for our nation’s kids. Whether you are a sustaining donor, a volunteer, an aspiring service member—or one of the other wonderful people on this list—I see you, and I appreciate you.
7. #GivingTuesday Generosity
On November 28, every dollar FoodCorps receives—up to $60,000!—will be matched thanks to a generous gift from FoodCorps board chair Jenny Shilling Stein and her husband Josh Stein. That means your gift will go twice as far in making a critical difference in the lives of the students FoodCorps serves. Help us meet our goal to unlock a total of $120,000, which will equip eight schools to become beacons of health, where children get the nourishment that will enable them to reach their full potential.