Imagine a world in which the school garden teacher is as ubiquitous as the school nurse.
Right now our country is facing a health crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three American children born in the year 2000 will get Type II diabetes. Among children of color, the figure rises to one in two. One solution is the equivalent of the school nurse: tending to these health issues after they arise, crippling our healthcare system in the treatment of diet-related disease.
Another solution is quite literally the school garden teacher/nutrition educator — utilizing prevention in the form of real food and real food education. This is where FoodCorps comes in. You’ve heard of Teach for America? Habitat for Humanity? This program, like those, will use the proven model of AmeriCorps service to tackle childhood obesity in communities of need. Service members will go into communities and help to build and grow school gardens, help get more local, healthy and delicious foods into the cafeterias, and help teach children about the connections between that garden, that cafeteria, and their health.
The program starts this August, and it started recruiting service members last week. Here’s what I like about it, too. It provides an invaluable service for the children, but it’s also this incredible opportunity to build your food resume. Here at Slow Food USA I see the intelligent and overqualified interns who are willing to work for us, and the piles of resumes we receive when we have a job opening. Interest in food related jobs is growing exponentially; FoodCorps is a brand new organization that will provide hands-on work experience in the important work of local sourcing, growing food, and helping the next generation of kids be healthier than the present one.
So it’s filling several needs at once — creating a job for the school garden teacher, improving the health of children in communities hit hard by diet-related disease, and hopefully creating fewer visitors to the school nurse.
Jerusha Klemperer is the Associate Director of National Programs at Slow Food USA. Through her work with Slow Food she is also a founding board member of FoodCorps. She is a writer of all kinds of things including book reviews, blog posts, and tweets, and is a contributor to the Huffington Post, CivilEats.com, WellandGoodNYC.com, and her personal blog Eat Here 2.