A year of learning and adapting to help school communities
keep kids nourished and thriving
In the 2019-2020 school year, the COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the resiliency and adaptability of our nation’s children and the essential work schools do every day to feed our kids and support their growth. School community members showed their dedication, creativity, and love as they came together to keep kids nourished through the hardships.
FoodCorps stood with school communities, helping to connect kids to healthy food in and out of the classroom through meal delivery, garden cultivation, and engaging online lessons. Our service program adapted to meet school communities’ evolving needs. We harnessed the spotlight on school meals to lift stories about the importance of food in schools. And we advocated for legislation that would protect children’s health, from emergency relief to longer-term funding in support of healthy schools.
Together with communities, FoodCorps serves to connect kids to healthy food in school. Here’s a look at what our dedicated network and supporters made possible last year.
Service in Schools
AmeriCorps members helping connect kids to healthy food in school
Our Reach and Impact
For the first half of the school year, our service program was having unprecedented reach: by February, service members were on track to reach students with more hands-on lessons and more taste tests than ever before.
But it’s not just about numbers: FoodCorps programming is designed to be responsive to the local contexts and priorities of our diverse school network. Our corps members work with schools to deliver hands-on learning that meets kids and the school community where they’re at.
schools in 17 states
and DC Metro
Stories of Impact
Honoring culture in Clarkston, GA
More than 60,000 refugees have made their first American home in Clarkston, Georgia, just east of Atlanta. FoodCorps service member Meggie Stewart, better known to her students as Farmer Meggie, served for two years with the International Rescue Committee at Indian Creek Elementary in Clarkston. Meggie took extra care to connect with her students and nurture a sense of belonging, particularly with students who joined the community as refugees.
“The school culture at Indian Creek was incredibly tight-knit,” she says. With support and guidance from IRC colleagues and members of the Clarkston community, Meggie celebrated the many cultures of students through her lessons—from the foods they grew in the gardens, like long beans and moringa, to recipes that reflected students’ taste preferences, like a love of garlic and spicy foods.
“FoodCorps members add energy, fresh perspective, and passion to our food service and educational teams. They are inspiring to be around, provide new ways of seeing and doing things, and challenge the status quo. They work to build on district initiatives, and add incredible capacity to our schools. FoodCorps, the program, brings quality lessons and national best practices to the district.”— Abby Getman-Skillicorn, Student Engagement Manager, Springfield Public Schools, Massachusetts
video lessons produced
service members supported meal distribution efforts
of school stakeholders valued FoodCorps programming
COVID-19: Responding and Adapting
In the wake of school closures, we turned to our service members and school partners to understand how we could make sure kids got the nourishment, comfort, and support that mattered more than ever.
- Adapting service: FoodCorps members jumped into remote hands-on learning with virtual lessons and take-home activity packets. More than 100 corps members reported helping with emergency meal distribution at least once in the spring. And many continued cultivating gardens for safe learning and as community food sources.
- Showing up for schools: Thanks to intentional listening and adaptation, in a year-end survey completed by 302 school staff from 68 schools across 9 states and the DC area, 95% said they valued FoodCorps programming.
Stories of Impact
Gardens grow in the Mississippi Delta
“Our service members and site partners got resourceful and creative with new ways to continue supporting our babies. Knowing some parents were struggling to keep their kids busy at home, some of our service members in Jackson put together a seedling kit to go home with families during meal distribution.
I shared this great idea on one of our statewide FoodCorps partner calls, which sparked an idea in our site supervisor, Ryan Betz, from Delta E.A.T.S. He knew they had the capacity and resources to do this on a larger scale. From there, our three service members with Delta E.A.T.S. started putting together family gardening kits consisting of seeds, compost, soil, and other materials they would drop off to families so they could garden together at home.
They called the project Grow With Us. It became so popular, the service members were able to connect with more children than they normally would pre-COVID.
During a time when our communities have so much need, our service members have been able to provide a source of nourishment, grounding, and connection. That level of community care is the most beautiful and inspiring thing to see.”
— Kenya Collins, Co-director of Programs, FoodCorps
Building trust in Cedar Rapids, IA
Strong relationships are a cornerstone of FoodCorps service. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, FoodCorps began supporting the school district in partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Linn County in 2013. One alum, Nathan Spalding, now leads FoodCorps programming in Iowa.
Ann Torbert, Dallas County Regional Director at ISU Extension, supervised seven generations of FoodCorps members in Cedar Rapids, and says they have been instrumental in the district’s local food sourcing initiatives since day one. “Each year, service members add their spin and encouragement to take our local foods work one next step,” she says.
Years of building trust meant 2018-20 service member Dainese Pridgeon (pictured below) was seen as an integral member of the community—and its COVID-19 response. When schools closed in March, she immediately began helping cafeteria staff cook and bag meals for Cedar Rapids families five days a week. Dainese credits those who came before her: “It makes me so grateful to the first FoodCorps members, who let me do what I was doing.”
Supporting tomorrow’s leaders and changemakers
BIMPOC service members
of members served in their home community
total FoodCorps alumni
When nurturing emerging leaders, equity matters. That means focusing our recruitment on candidates already connected to the communities they’ll serve and reducing barriers to service through improved compensation and support funds. FoodCorps increased service member stipends for the second straight year, toward an ongoing goal of ensuring every corps member a living wage. We awarded $103,042 in support funds, including emergency COVID-19 relief, to over 100 service members.
Through their careers and local leadership, FoodCorps alumni have an impact on kids and communities well beyond their service. And as the stories below show, service leaves a lasting impact on these emerging leaders.
*BIMPOC = Black, Indigenous, Multiracial and People of Color
Service Member and Alumni Stories
“My service year helped me realize that discovering our own connections to food ultimately teaches us a lot about ourselves, our family, our community, our heritage, our culture—and to share this journey of self-discovery along with our students is something that I found to be very profound.”— Genesis Caplan, serving with Seaton Elementary, Washington, DC (’21)
A farmer feeds his hometown in Lowell, MA
Christopher Horne (’16) served with Mill City Grows for two years in his hometown of Lowell, MA. He now owns and operates Horne Family Farms in New Hampshire, where he is growing fresh vegetables for a special new customer this year: the students of his alma mater, Lowell Public Schools.
“It feels amazing to sell my produce to LPS,” Christopher shares. “I’ve done a decent amount with [the school district], from building school gardens, after-school programs, cooking, etc., but now selling the produce I’ve grown is a win-win all around.”
Coming full circle in Albuquerque, NM
Mateo Carrasco (’20) was in his second year of service with Southwest Organizing Project in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when the pandemic hit. He was supporting Project Feed the Hood, a gardening initiative fostering community health through traditional growing practices. Mateo worked at the farm through the summer—beyond his service with FoodCorps—to help provide free food at harvest time.
“The farm that I am growing at is where I learned how to farm,” Mateo explains. “It’s where I became a team leader for incoming youth internships and ultimately the platform by which I became a FoodCorps member. The elder I’m working with had no help and his summer production was up in the air. Once COVID-19 hit, I knew that I needed to support him. After all this time, I’ve come back to where I began my journey and I’ve returned with enough knowledge to manage the land. I’m exhausted, but I’m also fulfilled.”
SWOP hired Mateo as a Food Justice Organizer and supervisor of current FoodCorps members. Learn more from Mateo on how SWOP is working to address institutional racism in the food system.
From service to SNAP-Ed in Maine
In Maine, FoodCorps alumni are turning their service into impactful careers providing nutrition education for Mainers in and out of school.
Sam McLean (’17) served in Waterville, where he now supports food education and community gardening as a SNAP-Ed program coordinator. “Through the many community members and organizations that I built relationships with during FoodCorps, I have been able to continue to invest in the Waterville community seamlessly for the last five years,” he says.
“I think it says a lot about the FoodCorps Maine program,” says Allie Cook (’19), now a SNAP-Ed nutrition educator in Indian Township. “People are building connections here that make them want to stay and build up their communities.”
Advocacy and Action
Accelerating the movement to make every school a healthy school
The movement to make healthy food a priority in schools is growing. We engaged over 300 public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders to chart a course toward a healthier school food system for all, integrating promising plans into FoodCorps’ next phase of work. COVID-19 thrust school meals into the spotlight, creating a moment to amplify stories about the power of food in schools. And our fast-growing advocacy network, along with congressional relationship building, helped fuel meaningful legislative progress.
multi-sector school food stakeholders engaged
news articles and videos spotlighting school food
legislative actions by
Alumni go to Washington
In the fall of 2019, FoodCorps hosted a group of policy-minded alumni and partners on Capitol Hill for a day of advocacy for school food. The group met with more than 30 senators and representatives and their staff to build support for the Farm to School Act of 2019 and the Kids Eat Local Act.
Their stories brought the potential of these bills to life—and boosted support: within days after the event, Sen. Boozman (R-AR) and Sen. Tester (D-MT) signed on as co-sponsors of the Kids Eat Local Act, and Sen. Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Tester co-sponsored the Farm to School Act of 2019.
Congress takes up food education funds
In early 2020, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act of 2020. FoodCorps worked directly with lawmakers to develop this bipartisan bill, which proposes a pilot program to expand food and nutrition educator positions in schools. The bill has since been introduced in the House. While COVID-19 delayed action on Child Nutrition Reauthorization, we’re prepared for continued advocacy in the new administration and new Congress.
Shining a spotlight on school food
In the wake of school closures due to COVID-19, FoodCorps launched our “School Food Is Essential” campaign. We amplified local stories about the critical role schools play in feeding kids, and mobilized our networks to advocate for the support school communities needed to keep kids from going hungry. The campaign resulted in coverage about the critical role of food in schools in dozens of major media outlets, from the Washington Post and Civil Eats to MSNBC and CNN Tonight.
Building a Stronger FoodCorps
A closer look at FoodCorps’ finances, leadership, and our journey toward antiracism
Our Antiracism Journey
FoodCorps commits to becoming a more just organization in service of a more just world. We developed the Just FoodCorps framework, a road map to guide and track our progress. We invested in learning and leadership, including an all-staff retreat led by The Mosaic Collaborative and promoting our Director of Equity to VP to keep us on track. We leaned into internal work, taking concrete steps:
- Correcting staff compensation inequities revealed by an internal pay equity study
- Growing equity leadership with a new Senior Manager of Equity and Racial Justice role
- Establishing a staff Equity Ambassador program to keep teams accountable
- Increasing service member stipends toward an ongoing goal of a living wage
- Introducing new equity-oriented trainings for staff, service members, and site partners
We have much more to do. Our forthcoming equity report will keep us accountable to staff, partners, and supporters, sharing actions and impact on this ongoing journey.
Statement of Financial Position
|Checking and Savings||5,429,878|
|Other Current Assets||165,643|
Liabilities and Net Assets
|Credit Card Charges||63,380|
|Temporarily Restricted Net Assets||3,422,490|
|Income and Unrestricted Net Assets||7,327,203|
|Total Net Assets||10,749,693|
|Total Liabilities and Equity||14,047,348|
Statement of Activities
|Program Service Fees||1,682,388|
|Other (in kind, special events)||25,329|
|Service Member Stipends and Benefits||5,972,070|
|Staff and Fellow Salaries and Benefits||9,274,986|
|Marketing and Communications||34,454|
|Grants to Other Organizations||36,665|
|Facilities and Equipment||779,425|
|Travel and Meetings||1,221,564|
Note: The figures presented here are the audited financials for the 12-month fiscal period from August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2020. Total Revenues reflects unrestricted revenue and revenue released from restriction. FoodCorps received stimulus funding through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, to maintain staff levels during the COVID pandemic and economic downturn during our 2020–2021 fiscal year. This is reflected here in our Other Liabilities in the amount of $2.3M. We estimate that 80% will be forgivable and recognized as revenue in FY21.
2019–2020 Board of Directors
John Gomperts (Chair), President and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance
Aliya Hussaini (Treasurer), Pediatrician and Portfolio Director for Health, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Eliza Greenberg (Secretary), Managing Partner, Innovation Fund, New Profit Inc.
Kendal Chavez, Farm to School Specialist/Nutritionist, New Mexico Public Education Department, FoodCorps Alum (NM ’13)
Curt Ellis, Co-founder & CEO, FoodCorps
Alejandro Gibes de Gac, Founder and CEO, Springboard Collaborative
Eric Goldstein, Principal, Range Meats Supply Company LLC
Dorothy McAuliffe, former First Lady of Virginia
Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems; Professor, Arizona State University
Ricardo Salvador, Director of Food and Environment, Union of Concerned Scientists
Rodney Taylor, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Fairfax County Public Schools
Susan Tunnell, Lawyer and Philanthropist
Warren Valdmanis, Author
Rachel Willis, Founder, Elevating Equity
Curt Ellis, Co-founder and CEO
Julia Bromka, VP of People
Laura Hatch, Co-VP of Impact
Sarah Hausman, Co-VP of Impact
Alice Kang, VP of Marketing & Communications
Tiffany McClain, VP of Equity
Ellen Moncure Wong, VP of Growth & Development
Alexa Arnold, Chief of Staff
Eva Ringstrom, Senior Director of Impact
Kenya Collins, Co-director of Programs
Beth Zschau, Co-director of Programs
Making meaningful progress for healthy schools possible
FoodCorps is grateful to all our supporters and partners in the 2019–2020 program year. Below is a selection of key corporate, foundation, and government partners. We are also honored by the generous support of the many individual donors who keep our work moving forward. Your investment in FoodCorps supports school communities to shape a brighter future for all children. Thank you.
Hero for Healthy Kids
Leader for Healthy Kids
Catalyst for Healthy Kids
Partner for Healthy Kids
The Charles Engelhard Foundation
Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
The Kresge Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation
The Health Fund
High Meadows Foundation
Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation
The McCance Foundation
New Profit Inc.
Adrienne’s Helping Hand
Franklin and Catherine Johnson Foundation
New York State Health Foundation
Newman’s Own Foundation
The Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust in Oregon
The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation