Most people are familiar with the Peace Corps, a volunteer organization that sends talented young adults into remote communities around the world to provide technical assistance in a variety of areas. AmeriCorps is a similar organization that asks its volunteers to spend a year performing community service in some of the most undeserved areas of the United States.
Now the idea of dedicated community service is being taken a step further with a focus on fixing the broken food system in the United States.
Just days ago, young people from around the country converged in Wisconsin to launch FoodCorps, a new national service organization dedicated to addressing childhood obesity and diet-related disease by building school gardens and developing Farm to School programs.
“These young leaders are dedicating a year of their lives to help give kids a relationship with healthy food that we hope will last a lifetime,” said Curt Ellis, co-founder and executive director of FoodCorps, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, “King Corn.”
The inaugural class of 50 FoodCorps volunteers were chosen from over 1,200 applicants. During their initial week of orientation and training, volunteers will spend time at the renowned Growing Power Community Food Center in Milwaukee, where they will receive hands-on instruction about building gardens, educating children about healthy food, and more.
After the training is complete, members will report to host sites in 10 states: Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon.
“As a nation, we are tightening our fiscal belt, yet health-related obesity costs are projected to reach $344 billion by 2018. FoodCorps is a sound investment in a healthy future and gives our kids a chance to beat back the painful and costly epidemic of diet-related disease,” said co-founder and FoodCorps Program Director Debra Eschmeyer, herself a produce farmer and former outreach director of the National Farm to School Network.
FoodCorps Service Members will be tasked with building school gardens, working with local food service directors to source more school meal ingredients from local farmers and providing authentic nutrition education to students.