CHANDLER, AZ (Apr 18, 2010)––The founders of FoodCorps are gathering in Arizona next week to launch the planning process for their national AmeriCorps Farm to School and school garden service program. The program, funded under newly approved planning grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is expected to begin on-the-ground activities in 2011.
“With Jamie Oliver calling for sweeping reforms in school meals, FoodCorps is the kind of shovel ready service program that can make the food revolution a reality,” said Debra Eschmeyer, one of the founders of FoodCorps and Outreach and Communications Director for the National Farm to School Network, the organizational home to FoodCorps.
Once launched, FoodCorps will recruit young adults for a yearlong term of public service in school food systems in communities of need. Service members will build and tend school gardens, conduct nutrition education, and build Farm to School supply chains. The program responds to data from the CDC indicating that school gardens and Farm to School programs are powerful tools in the battle to overcome childhood obesity.
The FoodCorps team’s meeting in Arizona, hosted as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Community Conference, will follow the April 21 anniversary of President Obama signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, legislation which called for tripling the size of AmeriCorps by 2017 and opened the door to development of the FoodCorps program.
The Kellogg Foundation announced a grant of $172,000 to support the FoodCorps planning process on April 1; the Corporation for National and Community Service announced its own $44,213 AmeriCorps National Planning Grant on April 16.
“FoodCorps will help to bring fresh food to a generation of children that needs it,” said Curt Ellis, one of the founders of FoodCorps and co-creator of the documentary King Corn. “Beyond increasing access to healthy food in public schools, the program promises to train a new generation of American farmers. FoodCorps can help making farming ‘cool’ again,” he said. “It’s a chance to get your hands dirty and consider agriculture as a career.”
Both Eschmeyer and Ellis are Fellows with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Society Fellows (www.foodandsocietyfellows.org), which seeks to create sustainable food systems that promote good health, vibrant communities, environmental stewardship, worker justice and accessibility for all.
Cecily Upton, FoodCorps planning team member and former Education Director for Slow Food USA, laid out the team’s next steps: “We’re hosting a Planning Summit in Detroit May 19-20 that will bring diverse voices of the planning process together––school food leaders, representatives from small farms and agribusiness, current AmeriCorps service members, and leaders of model programs like Montana’s state-level FoodCorps,” Upton said. “There’s room for everyone who’s interested to get involved. Learn more at www.food-corps.org.”
FoodCorps is a project of the National Farm to School Network, a joint program of the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College and the Community Food Security Coalition. A collaborative planning process––open to interested organizations and individuals from across the fields of food, agriculture, and education––is being led by Curt Ellis (filmmaker, King Corn), Cecily Upton (formerly Slow Food USA), Crissie McMullan (National Center for Appropriate Technology), Jerusha Klemperer (Slow Food USA), and Debra Eschmeyer (National Farm to School Network).