Photo: Spices of Life, Flickr
Congressional approval of the Child Nutrition Bill isn't the only good news for school lunch reform advocates. Word is, there's even more substantial help on the way.
FoodCorps, a new national AmeriCorps school-garden and farm-to-school service program, recently announced partnerships with 10 organizations to effectively springboard their mission: healthier, tastier, more nutritious lunches for our nation's most vulnerable children. Think of it like a domestic Peace Corp, but with a focus on getting healthy food to those who need it most. The numbers are grim. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three children born in 2000 are on track to develop Type II diabetes. For minorities, the rate is one in two.
To address the problem, FoodCorps has committed to place 82 service members on the ground, dedicating nearly 140,000 hours of service. Some of their work will include building and tending school gardens, conducting nutrition and education seminars, and improving the quality of the food served. The program will operate on the academic calendar, so service members will be shovel-ready by August 2011.
"We're doing the recruiting work now, and are on the look out for 82 highly qualified, enthusiastic leaders," Curt Ellis, FoodCorps founder and co-creator of the documentary film, King Corn told Slashfood in an interview.
Although the program is national in scope, partnering on a local level allows the organization to operate more efficiently.
"We had no interest in imposing a cookie-cutter solution on diverse local communities," says Ellis. "What might work in Mississippi may not work in New Mexico or Michigan. What these ten host sites have in common is that they're great leaders in school lunch reform already. They all have a familiarity with farm to school programs and have built a network of partnerships across the states where they are operating."
Interested in learning more? Here's the list of the 10 host sites, selected from a group of 108 entries:
• Arkansas: The Delta Garden Study
• Arizona: Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health
• Iowa: National Center for Appropriate Technology
• Massachusetts: The Food Project
• Maine: University of Maine Cooperative Extension
• Michigan: C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU
• Mississippi: Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity
• North Carolina: North Carolina 4-H and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems
• New Mexico: Office of Community Learning and Public Service at UNM
• Oregon: Oregon Department of Agriculture