Applications Open for Growing Cadre of School Food Changemakers
New York, NY – January 9, 2014 – FoodCorps, a national organization that connects children in underserved communities to real food in order to help them grow up healthy, opens applications tomorrow for its fourth annual class of service members. The selected emerging 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 bringing high quality local foods into school cafeterias.
“What we feed our children in school––and what we teach them about food there––shapes their health and success over a lifetime. By joining FoodCorps, you will have a chance to do something incredibly important: connect children to healthy food, and give them the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive,” said Curt Ellis, FoodCorps co-founder and Chief Executive Officer.
Service Member Cecilia Hernandez agrees. “I love being a FoodCorps service member because it gives me the rare opportunity to create something and in the process connect children and their families to a food system that is nourishing and uplifting.”
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, access to healthy food. In its first three years FoodCorps had some 1,000 applicants each year for its positions, with graduating service members going on to law school, public health programs, teaching positions, food service and more. Each year since its inception, FoodCorps has expanded its reach and grown its ranks.
The first three FoodCorps classes have brought important progress to the schools they serve—from making local cabbage and collards staples in North Carolina cafeterias, to getting New Mexico students excited about fresh pomegranates; from building or revitalizing hundreds of school and community gardens, to engaging thousands of volunteers and parents in their efforts. In addition, FoodCorps has provided valuable skills and training to the service members who go through the program, setting them up for careers in food, health and education. Benefits of AmeriCorps service include a $17,500 stipend, health care, training, and a $5,645 education award.
FoodCorps alumna Natasha Hegmann, now the Garden Manager with the University of Montana Farm to College Program, reflected on the usefulness of her experience, saying that it “has paved a path into the nonprofit sector, classroom or outdoor education, nutrition and public health, food service, and, of course, agriculture.”
For its fourth class, FoodCorps seeks up to 175 men and women with a passion for serving their country as AmeriCorps service members. FoodCorps is already in 15 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawai’i, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon. In 2014, funding permitting, FoodCorps is pursuing expansion to Georgia and Washington, D.C., through partnership with Georgia Organics and the Washington D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
“The demand for FoodCorps across the country is a signal that communities are ready to address childhood health through the transformation of the school food environment,” said Cecily Upton, FoodCorps co-founder and Vice President of Programs. “We are excited to continue our growth into two new communities, with the assistance of strong host organizations there.”
Applications are due March 30th. Emerging leaders interested in getting more information should go to https://foodcorps.org/become-a-service-member.
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 food into public school cafeterias. Funding for FoodCorps is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, AmeriCorps, and a diverse array of private and public donors.