By Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
As Secretary of Agriculture, I take USDA’s nickname of the “People’s Department”—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart. Over the past five years, we have worked hard to build upon our tradition of service to the American people, supporting both the farmers and ranchers who grow our food and giving American families confidence that the food they buy at the grocery store is safe, healthy and affordable.
We could not accomplish our mission without the contributions of partner organizations and individual volunteers across the country. While our work with volunteers is by no means exclusive to nutrition and nutrition education, they act as our boots on the ground in classrooms and communities to teach kids about where food comes from and why the diet and lifestyle choices they make today matter for their future. Volunteers, along with parents, teachers, school administrators, and school food service professionals, are absolutely critical to our efforts to improve childhood nutrition and help this generation of youngsters grow up healthy and strong.
Last year, we worked with 125 FoodCorps service members in schools across 15 states, including my home state of Iowa. FoodCorps is part of the AmeriCorps Service Network, and its volunteers spend one year terms in schools across the country, from Connecticut to California, helping schools bring local and regionally grown foods into the cafeteria and providing nutrition education to students.