Leave the Slump, Take Some Umph!

It’s the middle of the service year for FoodCorps service members across the United States. This means we are in what FoodCorps calls “the slump” phase of our service. This “slump” is described in the FoodCorps handbook the following way:

January-March: ​After members take a much deserved winter break, they come back with renewed hopes and plans for the remainder of their terms. When these hopes and plans don’t immediately come to fruition, it can make it difficult to return to the reality of service. This can be followed by negative feelings about their overall experience and critical reflection and reevaluation of their role in the community. The decreasing sunlight hours and winter weather don’t help as service members have fewer opportunities to engage their students outdoors in the garden and it is too early to start planning for spring.”

Man, the people who write these things sure know what they are talking about. Lack of sunlight? Few opportunities to engage students outdoors? It’s almost like they are living in Michigan, observing our daily lives in the north where “the slump” seems especially applicable.

In this phase of service, “service members may need a little extra support and appreciation. For that reason, FoodCorps holds Regional Mid-Year Gatherings in order to “bring members together, boost moral, and provide fresh insight through training.”

At the end of January, Northern Michigan FoodCorps service members Lindsay Hall and Julia Paige set off to Raleigh, North Carolina to do just that. We left feelings of stagnation behind in Michigan in hopes of gaining some inspiration and a hefty dose of Vitamin D at the South/Central Mid Year gathering. We spent a week engaging with our fellow service members from Mississippi, Arkansas, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, and Michigan, along with FoodCorps staff. We partook in thoughtful discussions, attended inspiring sessions and workshops, and now we’re back home with a little more pep to our step, or “a little more umph and a little less slump”, as our fellow service member, Chandra Brown phrased it.

Although it’s not quite spring yet, we can see the horizon. We have faith that our service and every step along the way is making a difference in our communities.

Below, both Lindsay and Julia recount their favorite part of mid-year gathering, and what they will be bringing back to their service.

Highlights for Julia:

I was really inspired by the peer to peer sessions that I attended. These were workshops put on by service members, for service members. From healthy food marketing in school cafeterias to classroom management, I learned some great tips from my peers. The experience made me in awe of the amount of collective knowledge and expertise that all of us have together.

Highlights for Lindsay:

I think overall what I enjoyed the most was just being able to reconnect with everyone to share our stories and knowledge. It can be hard sometimes to work as an individual in one small community, but by coming together, I’m reminded of this larger movement that we’re all contributing to and it is really affirming.