National Service Cultivates Healthy Futures, Says VP Debra Eschmeyer

By Debra Eschmeyer

In the spring of 2009, the seeds of our organization—and the seeds for a healthy future— were planted by two important White House initiatives. That March, shovels dug in to break ground on the White House Kitchen Garden, and a few weeks later, President Obama signed the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law. Motivated to reverse the startling trend in childhood obesity and usher in a new era of service, FoodCorps’ founding team was inspired by these two events and saw in them an opportunity to engage AmeriCorps in building a more sustainable, healthful and equitable food system.

With private co-investment, FoodCorps places AmeriCorps leaders into limited resource communities to teach kids about healthy food and lead them on a path towards a healthy future: building and tending school gardens, leading children in taste tests and cooking lessons, and then collaborating with school food directors to get healthy, local items onto school lunch trays.

When these three things are done together—knowledge, engagement and access—kids eat and enjoy healthy food. And not just for a day; they build healthy habits to last them a lifetime. When an eighth-grade boy asks “Can I go outside to eat more broccoli?” and a third-grade girl declares a freshly picked cherry tomato “better than Gushers,” we know their service is making a difference.

Get Deb’s full thoughts on the CNCS blog.