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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Food Corps: A New Service Corps For Kids And Food

Celebrities are making healthy food the latest cool cause. That's a trend AmeriCorps wants to harvest, literally, with a new FoodCorps volunteer program.

Kids harvesting potatoes on a farm in Maine in 1940.

Photo: Library of Congress

It used to be that schools would not open in Maine until all the potatoes were harvested, as in this photo from 1940. Now, school children rarely eat fresh farm food. An AmeriCorps program hopes to expose a new generation to natural food and farming.

Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver and many other celebrities are making healthy food the latest cool cause to support. That’s a trend AmeriCorps wants to harvest, literally.

A year-long planning process is underway to create FoodCorps, a band of citizen workers who will work with local schools and farmers to bring fresh produce and healthy eating habits to American youth.

FoodCorps will receive a boost from the Edward Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009, which authorized funding to increase the number of AmeriCorps volunteers from 75,000 to 250,000 by the year 2017.

AmeriCorps is also working with the National Farm to School Network and Slow Food USA to implement the new program.

Those groups and others worked to raise more than $215,000 from the Kellog Foundation to help start FoodCorps, which organizers hope to officially start by 2011.

Expanding State Programs

Supporters of the new program hope FoodCorps will make a quick difference in what kids are eating, one that’s faster than the slow bureaucratic process that can be associated with other government programs.

From the program’s Vision Statement:

The vision for FoodCorps is to recruit young adults for a yearlong term of public service in school food systems. Once stationed, FoodCorps members will build Farm to School supply chains, expand food system and nutrition education programs, and build and tend school food gardens.

The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the health and prosperity of vulnerable children, while investing in the next generation of farmers.

The call for a new national program is inspired by state FoodCorp programs such as those in Montana, Wisconsin and Iowa.

There will be a planning conference in Detroit May 19 and 20 with experts on the issue of food in schools as well as former AmeriCorps service members and farm-to-school program coordinators.

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Jessica Gall Myrick

Originally from West Lafeytte, Ind., Jessica Gall Myrick moved to Bloomington in 2002 to run cross country and track for the IU Hoosiers and never left. She has a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's in Journalism from Indiana University.

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  • Myrna Mandjikov

    What a great idea. Hasn't China been doing this for years?

    Sorry, I think private ownership and support of the family farms is better than the state taking over the control of food in this country.

    The goal of healthy food is good. But the means to it –state control?–is frightening.

    Remember, there used to be 4-H, FFA and home economics.

  • Katy

    Public schools are government run and the meals they serve are controlled by the government and the farms that food comes from recieve government subsidies and support already… so unless you think every child should attend a private school on thier own money your argument makes no sense.

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