In August 2011, FoodCorps will send its inaugural class of eighty-two volunteers to host sites in ten states for a year of public service to address the childhood obesity epidemic. FoodCorps, an offshoot of Americorps, is the first program of its kind committed to building Farm to School supply chains, expanding nutrition programs and constructing school gardens in order to expose children in vulnerable communities to a healthy food system.
The goal of FoodCorps is to “increase the health and prosperity of vulnerable children while investing in the next generation of farmers.” FoodCorps volunteers will be sent to organizations in Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico and Oregon to work with children in communities suffering disproportionate rates of childhood obesity. Their work will focus on building and strengthening hands-on programs like Farm to School, which connects schools with local farms in order to bring healthy meals to students and to support local agriculture, and building school gardens that students will tend in conjunction with a nutrition education curriculum.
Currently, one in three children suffer from childhood obesity and two in three children do not get enough exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a healthy school food infrastructure is an important piece in solving the childhood obesity epidemic, as children exposed to work in gardens make better food choices and are more physically active. Research has also shown Farm to School programs encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables and increase their acceptance of these healthful foods.
For more information on the many benefits of Farm to School for children, farmers and our communities, as well as tips for how to jumpstart a program in your area, check out Farm Aid’s Farm to School Toolkit.
Click here to learn more about FoodCorps and how to apply to be a 2011-2012 volunteer. Applications are due April 10th.