Learning about Healthy Foods with Food Corps

By Susan Littlefield

What is one of the best ways to help adults stay healthy? Helping children develop good nutritional habits early on goes a long way towards assuring not only a healthy childhood, but a healthy adulthood as well.

That's the idea behind Food Corps, a new national service organization whose volunteers will address the problems of obesity and diet-related disease by delivering hands-on nutrition education to children in limited-resource communities, helping to build and tend school gardens in these communities, and through farm-to-school programs, bringing high quality local foods into school cafeterias.

This new program, which is a partner of the successful AmeriCorps service program that annually sends more than 85,000 volunteers out into communities nationwide, recently sent out its first 50 fellows to 41 host sites in 10 states. These 50 volunteers were selected from among the 1229 people that applied, which FoodCorps co-founder and program director Debra Eschneyer noted made it more competitive than admission to Harvard! The hope is that, beyond their direct impact in the schools and programs they reach in their year of service, these young leaders will go on to become farmers, chefs, educators, and public health leaders who will continue to spread the message of good nutrition to a wider audience.

An example of one of FoodCorps programs is at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health in Arizona. Native American communities have high rates of diet-related type-II diabetes in adults and even children. Four FoodCorps service members, some of whom have been recruited from the tribal communities they are serving, are helping to improve community nutrition and health by promoting native gardens and helping schools source food from tribal farmers.

To find out more about FoodCorps, including information on applying to serve, supporting their work with sponsorships and donations, volunteering alongside service members in the field, mentoring service members for careers in food and health, or applying for a garden grant for a project in your community, go to: FoodCorps.

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