A new service program promises to recruit an army of volunteers to help transform school food and, perhaps, groom a new generation of farmers.
Over the last three years, I have received thousands of emails, calls, letters, and in person requests from around the country reiterating the same query: “I love the concept of Farm to School programs, but how do I get started in my community’s school? Our budgets are tight and we just don’t have the sweat equity and the labor to pull it off.”
Normally, I answer by walking through the steps of starting a program and briefly assessing the situation in the school environment: do they have a working kitchen? Are there local farmers interested in selling to the school? Is the Food Service Director on board with incorporating fresh, local product? And so on.
But this time, I can excitedly add to my answer, “Have you heard of FoodCorps?”
FoodCorps is a national AmeriCorps program in development that focuses on improving school food systems in high obesity, limited access rural and urban communities around the country. Service members will build and tend school gardens, conduct nutrition education, and facilitate Farm to School programming that brings local food into schools. The program aims to at once serve vulnerable children, improving access to healthy, affordable school meals, while also serving its service members by training a cadre of leaders for careers in food and agriculture. The first troop of FoodCorps members are planned to hit the ground in fall 2011.
So for all of you who have ever wanted to transform the tray, here’s your chance. FoodCorps is searching for vibrant, connected, and supportive host sites that will be instrumental to the success of the FoodCorps mission.
The open period for Letters of Inquiry from potential Host Sites closes on Friday, September 17th. Go here to learn more. Or join us on our monthly open conference call on Thursday, September 2 at 5:00 pm EST to ask questions about Host Site selection.
FoodCorps is a program of the National Farm to School Network, developed in partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Slow Food USA, and the documentary and advocacy organization Wicked Delicate.