Building on the work of FoodCorps, Warren County hosts AmeriCorps VISTA member

By Luci Weldon, The Warren Record

Chapel Hill native Leah Steffens recently joined Warrenton nonprofit Working Landscapes as an AmeriCorps VISTA service member serving the community for one year.

According to its website, AmeriCorps VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to America, was established in 1965 as a network of national service programs designed to address community needs that include increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks and preparing for disasters.

In her new role, Steffens will be involved with Working Landscapes’ What’s Growing On program. She will be training teachers in a curriculum developed by the local FoodCorps program which was hosted by Working Landscapes and Warren County Cooperative Extension.

A national nonprofit organization, FoodCorps focused on teaching students that healthy produce is not only delicious, but also easy to grow. FoodCorps wrapped up its service in Warren County in July as Working Landscapes and the local Cooperative Extension aimed to offer similar programming to build upon FoodCorps’ mission to provide students with access to healthy foods.

What’s Growing On highlights certain fruits and vegetables that are in season during a particular month. Participating elementary school teachers receive harvest boxes containing enough produce for teachers and students to take home, along with recipes showing how the produce can be incorporated into meals.

“It’s designed to get kids excited about local foods and (to teach them) why it’s better to eat local foods,” Steffens said.