A year of supporting kids’ health and well-being through the power of food in schools
COVID-19 shifted the narrative about the role of schools in kids’ lives. In a year of incredible hardship, it created an opportunity to seed a better future.
The 2020-2021 school year was a year to show the power of food in nurturing kids’ health and well-being. To show the critical role of schools in that work. To show up for families and communities in the ways they needed us to. To amplify the stories and expertise of school staff and leaders, and set in motion changes that would make it easier to be there for kids and families. To show just how much food in school matters.
We are in awe of our school and community partners, our service members, and our allies across the food and education fields for coming together to bring kids nourishment, hope, and joy through the power of food in school. Here’s a look at what our dedicated network and supporters made possible last year.
“2020-2021 was a success because we worked together and served students and families to the best of our abilities.”— Iowa school staff member
Impact in Schools
AmeriCorps members helping connect kids to healthy food in school
This year brought a renewed commitment to nourishing kids through the power of food in school. We saw it in the 119 schools, districts, and community organizations who signed up for a year of partnership with FoodCorps, and in the 220 AmeriCorps service members who answered the call of service. Together, we touched the lives of 130,161 students in 281 schools around the country—responding to local priorities, centering kids’ social and emotional well-being, and planting seeds for lasting transformation in how food shows up in school and kids’ lives.
tastings of nutritious foods
(62 brand new!)
led virtual lessons
led in-person lessons
supported meal distribution efforts
valued FoodCorps programming
saw students increase knowledge of healthy food
saw students improve gardening/cooking skills
Stories of Impact
Nurturing Resilience in Oregon’s Rogue Valley
The school year had just begun when wildfires devastated the communities of Phoenix and Talent, Oregon. Longtime FoodCorps partner Rogue Valley Farm to School (RVF2S) adapted its presence in Phoenix-Talent School District to make students’ mental health a priority. For service member Alicia Loebl, this meant teaching mindfulness and self-regulation practices, tailoring lessons to be responsive to students’ needs, and sometimes just being in community in the garden.
Alicia conducted pre- and post-lesson stress checks as part of a RVF2S evaluation to understand the effects of garden education on students coping with trauma. The results confirmed the program’s healing power: students felt better after being in the garden. An external evaluation found the benefits extended to teachers—both for their own healing and their relationship with students. The year of intense hardship built stronger bonds—and alignment—across the school community, says Rebecca Slosberg, Education Director at RVF2S. “One of the biggest things that we found,” says Rebecca, “is it’s all about relationship building.”
“Wow, garden time really makes students happy.”— Teacher observing students in Oregon’s Phoenix-Talent School District
“I love FoodCorps because we always get to help!”— First grader planting microgreens with service member Gabby Mills, Traverse City, MI
Stepping Stones in Portland, ME
FoodCorps service is often a stepping stone for school communities to make food education a regular part of school life. In Portland, Maine, ongoing service member support through partnerships with Cultivating Community and Portland Public Schools helped make the case for four full-time district-employed garden educator positions this year—an investment in hands-on learning for more kids. “If you’re trying to change culture or systems, one person can’t do that,” says FoodCorps alumna Lily Chaleff (ME ’17), Schools Program Manager at Cultivating Community. “There has to be community buy-in.”
Ryan Parker, FoodCorps Maine’s Program Associate Director, like all our state program staff, works with school districts like PPS to make sure the structures are—or get—in place for lasting impact. With this long-term view, Ryan says, “we can impact an entire district for generations.”
A Community’s Garden in Camden, NJ
At KIPP Lanning Square Primary in Camden, New Jersey, service members have helped change the food education landscape, says Joe Hejlek, Director of Wraparound Services at KIPP. KIPP corps members collaborated with community partners to expand hands-on learning and food access for the school’s students.
“Our school garden is now an integral part of the fabric of our school community,” Joe says. “Teachers take their classes out, staff sit there on their lunch breaks or to take phone calls, passersby stop and admire what’s growing. Our students have so few opportunities to experience nature, so it is really meaningful that we’ve been able to create a space for nature and life in the midst of our school community.”
Fostering a diverse and empowered network of changemakers
of corps members satisfied/very satisfied with their service experience
of 2019 and 2020 grads hired by a FoodCorps partner
of alumni in priority fields like food education and school nutrition
Our investment in diverse leadership starts with how we recruit service members, including outreach through BIMPOC*-focused networks and institutions that helped grow BIMPOC representation to 40% of our service corps (up from 27% five years ago). It continues with how we support members in service: from the 150+ trainings corps members received during the year to increased stipends toward providing a living wage. It carries on after service, through professional development, career resources, and networking opportunities that have resulted in 67% of our 1,199 alumni working in related fields like food education, school nutrition, and policy and advocacy.
*BIMPOC = Black, Indigenous, Multiracial and People of Color
BIMPOC School Nutrition Leadership Network
Representation matters. To help shape a more inclusive future for school food leaders—a still white-dominant field—Morgan McGhee, MPH, RD, FoodCorps’ Director of School Nutrition Leadership, created a program to connect service members and alumni with school nutrition professionals for ongoing networking, training, and peer support. Its success helped seed plans for FoodCorps’ new school nutrition–focused service path being piloted this year.
At a virtual convening this summer, the group engaged in racial equity coaching and dreaming up ideas to keep momentum going. “There’s so much power to be gained if we continue to bridge more of these gaps [among professionals of color],” said alumna Rhea Singh (NC ’18). “There’s no one else doing this,” added Morgan. “We owe it to ourselves and to our journey in equity to value and center and uplift those voices.”
Service Member Action Committee
When FoodCorps service members have the support they need, they’re better set up to have an impact on kids and communities. Alumna Robyn Pratt (GA ’19), FoodCorps’ Training and Leadership Development Manager, developed the Service Member Action Committee (SMAC), a leadership opportunity for BIMPOC and LGBTQ+ members to help lift the voices and needs of service members year-round.
Committee members co-led culturally responsive learning communities and affinity spaces. They gave input on new program resources and equity initiatives. And when they heard a need for resources on body positivity, they created a children’s book on the topic—with a copy going to every service member this year. Liana Sonne, a member of the first committee, saw value in creating more opportunities for service member input. “I think the more that there’s collective visioning, the better for any space,” they say.
“The more that there’s collective visioning, the better for any space.”— Liana Sonne, SMAC cohort participant
Bay Area native Janelle Manzano (CA ’18) believes in the power of making connections. As Farm to School Program Specialist for San Diego Unified School District in California, she focuses a great deal on fostering understanding of the relationships between local food systems, nutrition education, and school gardens for students and school leaders alike.
While Janelle originally planned to pursue clinical nutrition, her FoodCorps experience and the relationships she built as a service member took her down a different path. “On this side of the work, I can help kids experience the joy of tasting a peach for the first time and help them understand how what they eat connects to their overall health,” she says.
When Paloma Jones (NY ’19) began her FoodCorps service at Edible Schoolyard NYC, she looked forward to connecting with students who shared her Latine heritage. “I did not always have teachers who looked like me,” she says. “It cannot be said enough, but representation is important, especially when it comes to both education and health.”
Three years later, Paloma is still at ESNYC as a Kitchen and Garden Educator, continuing to connect with students through food and culture. In June, she saw her first class of sixth-graders graduate to high school. “Sometimes I’ll see past students and they’ll mention something we made or an activity we did, and it is pretty amazing to see the lasting impact.”
Advocating for Food Equity
From gardening with kids as a service member in his hometown of Lynn, Massachusetts, to coalition-building and shaping policy a decade later, Norris Guscott (MA ’12) discovered his purpose and is proudly living it. As Equity Network Policy Manager with the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, he builds advocacy for legislation that addresses equity in the state’s food system, like the Equity in Agriculture Act. As the newly appointed Public Health Coordinator for the City of Lynn, Guscott manages the city’s public health portfolio, including food access. “My work in food access and food policy is how I know I can help my city, my state, and my country,” Norris says. “This is how I will make the most impact in the world.”
Advocacy and Action
Amplifying the movement for food education and nutritious meals in schools for all
The national spotlight on school nutrition created an opportunity to show why food in schools matters and how to reach more kids. FoodCorps’ Policy Vision guided our work to educate and advocate, with an emphasis on lifting local voices and expertise. Coalition efforts for state and federal legislation grew momentum—and some landed big wins.
legislative actions taken
state and federal bills advanced or in progress
A Breakthrough Year of State Wins
State policy matters, as the wave of legislative wins last year proved. FoodCorps played both co-leader and supporting roles in coalition efforts to connect more kids to nutritious food and hands-on food education. California became the first state to guarantee free school meals for all students, followed quickly by Maine—benefiting over 6 million kids this school year. Oregon renewed investments in farm to school to the tune of $10.2 million. And Connecticut established its first state farm to school grant program, CT Grown for CT Kids, an effort years in the making.
A Closer Look: CT Grown for CT Kids
Policy change takes years of collaboration and collective advocacy. It can be difficult to capture just how much work happens behind the scenes—but we tried anyway. Here, FoodCorps’ Northeast Regional Director Dawn Crayco recounts the key relationships and critical moments that led to the passage of the CT Grown for CT Kids bill.
Elevating Local Expertise
Lived experience should guide the policy conversation. That’s why we hosted a series of virtual events amplifying education and school nutrition leaders to talk about the issues they see affecting school communities: the lingering impacts of COVID-19, school food policy in the new administration, and the future of the National School Lunch Program (celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2021).
“It’s going to take us, as school food service directors and advocates for school nutrition, to let our legislators know that we need help and we need it now.”—Warren DeShields, Director of Food Services, Bridgeton Public Schools, New Jersey, at FoodCorps’ “School Meals During COVID-19 and Beyond” virtual town hall
A New School Nutrition Landscape
During the 2020-2021 school year, FoodCorps interviewed education and nutrition leaders across 22 districts to learn how the pandemic is affecting the role of food in schools. Our resulting Nourishing Learners report revealed some silver linings, including stronger schoolwide support of programs like Breakfast in the Classroom and outdoor lunch periods. We brought our learnings to policymakers to show what’s working and what matters when shaping school food legislation.
Partner Spotlight: Rachael Ray Foundation
Author, daytime host, and philanthropist Rachael Ray is a vocal champion for child nutrition. Rachael has used her national platform to shine a light on the impact of food education and the policies that matter to school nutrition and education leaders. She boosted FoodCorps’ advocacy for legislation tied to Child Nutrition Reauthorization—and later, the Build Back Better Act, in an op-ed co-penned with FoodCorps’ co-founder and CEO Curt Ellis. In 2021 the Rachael Ray Foundation helped seed new FoodCorps-supported policy work in key states where we operate. “Rachael has gone to bat for kids’ health time and again,” Curt says. “I’m honored to count her as an ally for school communities.”
Building a Stronger FoodCorps
A closer look at FoodCorps’ finances, leadership, and our ongoing journey toward anti-racism
Our Equity Journey
Our first equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) report is a public reflection about FoodCorps’ journey to become a more just organization in service of a more just future for our country’s kids. The report explores the origins and impacts of how FoodCorps has shown up over the past 10 years—progress, missteps, and all. To keep us accountable, we’re making this public report an annual effort.
“We know it’s a journey, we know sometimes we’re going to mess up—and we’re committed to it anyway.”— Rachel Willis, Founder and CEO of Elevating Equity and FoodCorps Board Member, on FoodCorps’ equity journey
Statement of Financial Position
|Checking and Savings||8,646,208|
|Other Current Assets||205,534|
Liabilities and Net Assets
|Credit Card Charges||56,050|
|Temporarily Restricted Net Assets||6,159,522|
|Income and Unrestricted Net Assets||5,538,924|
|Total Net Assets||11,698,446|
|Total Liabilities and Equity||12,893,567|
Statement of Activities
|Program Service Fees||1,290,063|
|Other (in kind, special events)||17,045|
|Service Member Stipends and Benefits||5,438,806|
|Staff and Fellow Salaries and Benefits||8,987,478|
|Marketing and Communications||176,179|
|Grants to Other Organizations||67,000|
|Facilities and Equipment||626,454|
|Travel and Meetings||151,883|
Expenses By Department
The figures presented here are the audited financials for the 12-month fiscal period from August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021. Total Revenues reflects unrestricted revenue and revenue released from restriction. FoodCorps received stimulus funding (that was forgiven in full) 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.
2019–2020 Board of Directors
John Gomperts (Chair), President and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance
Curt Ellis (President), Co-founder & CEO, FoodCorps
Aliya Hussaini (Treasurer), Pediatrician and Portfolio Director for Health, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Eliza Greenberg (Co-secretary), Managing Partner, Innovation Fund, New Profit Inc.
Ricardo Salvador (Co-secretary), Director of Food and Environment, Union of Concerned Scientists
Kara Bobroff, Executive Director, One Generation
Kendal Chavez, Farm to School Specialist/Nutritionist, New Mexico Public Education Department, FoodCorps Alum (NM ’13)
Alejandro Gibes de Gac, Founder and CEO, Springboard Collaborative
Dorothy McAuliffe, National Policy Advisor, Share Our Strength
Rodney Taylor, School Food Service Consultant
Susan Tunnell, Lawyer and Philanthropist
Melissa Williams, Philanthropist
Rachel Willis, Founder, Elevating Equity
Curt Ellis, Co-founder and CEO
Julia Bromka, VP of Organizational Health and Operations
Kenya Collins, VP of Equity
Sarah Hausman, VP of Impact Programs
Alice Kang, VP of Impact Operations
Ellen Moncure Wong, Chief External Relations Officer
Making meaningful progress possible for kids’ health and well-being
FoodCorps is grateful to all our supporters and partners in the 2020–2021 program year. Below are key corporate, foundation, and government partners. We are also honored by the generous support of the many individual donors (although not listed here) 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
The Rockefeller Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation
Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation
The Kresge Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The Health Fund
Henry P. Kendall Foundation
Inclusive Capital Partners Foundation
Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation
Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
New Profit Inc.
Zide Family Foundation
The Germeshausen Foundation, Inc.
The Healy Foundation
The Hearst Foundations
The McCance Foundation
Cornell Douglas Foundation
The Donald C. Brace Foundation
Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee
Franklin and Catherine Johnson Foundation
K-12 Summer Learning Fund of Oregon Community Foundation
Newman’s Own Foundation
The Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust in Oregon
The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
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