FoodCorps Launches Second Program Year With New States, 84% Growth in Service Force

80 Service Members and 12 FoodCorps Fellows Set Out to Improve School Food

Aug 13, 2012 – Today, FoodCorps, a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy, launches its second program year with an increased service force, a new Fellows program, and expansion into two new states, Montana and Connecticut. This corps of leaders will dedicate one year of full-time public service in school food systems – expanding hands-on nutrition education programs, building and tending school gardens, and sourcing healthy, local food for school cafeterias.

In its first year FoodCorps gained national attention by attracting over 1,000 applicants for just 50 positions, and by providing an innovative and scalable approach to solving our national obesity epidemic. This year it ups its numbers to 80 AmeriCorps service members, who will build on last year’s accomplishments—nearly 60,000 children reached, over 499 school gardens built and revitalized, and over 11,000 pounds of produce donated to the community. More than 1,000 candidates applied to serve again this year.

FoodCorps is also adding a new Fellows program, in which 12 returning corps members will serve as team leaders, supporting and guiding the service members in their states, and embarking on special projects of their own design.

“In addition to providing a year of invaluable service to their communities, FoodCorps members are beginning their lifelong role as leaders in the fields of food, agriculture, public service, and public health,” said Service Program Director Cecily Upton. “We expect FoodCorps alumni to be changemakers who work to improve the health of our children and our communities for a long time to come.”

Since 1980, the percentage of American children who are overweight or obese has doubled. With one in four U.S. children struggling with hunger and one in three obese or overweight, FoodCorps addresses the root cause of both: the need to connect all kids with healthy food.

As the Institute of Medicine recommended in Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention, we need to “strengthen schools as the heart of health. Schools, in particular, should be a ‘national focal point’ for obesity prevention, because children spend up to half their waking hours and consume as many as half their daily calories there.”

“As kids go back to school, we’re reminded that what we feed our children, and what we teach them about food, affects how they learn, how they grow and how long they will live, said Director of Partnerships and Policy, Debra Eschmeyer. We must empower them with education and access to healthy, safe, affordable food.”

FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy. FoodCorps places these leaders in limited-resource communities for a year of public service where they conduct hands-on food education, build and tend school gardens, and facilitate getting high-quality local ingredients into school meals.