FoodCorps: NYC Food Based Community Organization Spotlight

by Alexina Cather, MPH

What they do: FoodCorps is nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who collaborate with communities to help make schools healthier places for kids to eat, learn, and grow. Our 10 FoodCorps New York service members reach 18 schools across the South Bronx, Harlem, and Central Brooklyn by partnering with Edible Schoolyard NYC, Wellness in the Schools, Harlem Grown, New Settlement Apartments, Morris Heights Health Center, Bubble Foundation, and Bronx Health REACH.

How they do it: In partnership with these organizations—and our schools, teachers, staff, community members, and students—FoodCorps members focus their service on delivering hands-on lessons in growing, cooking and tasting healthy food; improving school meals; and encouraging a school-wide culture of health. They are working to transform school environments so that all students- no matter their race, class, or geography- know what healthy food is, care where it comes from, and eat it every day.

Mission: FoodCorps connects kids to healthy food in school, so they can lead healthier lives and reach their full potential.

Latest project/campaign: While FoodCorps is a five year old national program, FoodCorps New York launched just last year! October is Farm to School month, so our usual programming is getting kicked up a notch, with a special emphasis on celebrations and public awareness. Our AmeriCorps service members have been working to bring the cafeteria and classroom space alive with lessons about where our food comes from, celebrations of local produce, and introductions to healthy food, both for students and their families. Last week was Kale Day, and service members partnered with school food service and their cafeteria staff to promote the kale salad on the cafeteria line. Service members provided cafeteria taste tests, decorated the tables with kale centerpieces, engaged older students as wellness ambassadors to encourage tasting, and handed out kale to families and the school community for their own enjoyment at home.

Major Funding: Twenty-two percent of funding comes from our partnership with AmeriCorps. The rest is a combination of program site fees, corporate partnerships, foundations, and individual donors.

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual budget: N/A

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: One of FoodCorps’ co-founders, Debra Eschmeyer, went on to become the Executive Director of the First Lady’s childhood health initiative Let’s Move!, and the Senior Nutrition Policy Advisor to the President.

FACT SHEET

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Core Programs: FoodCorps New York leverages ten AmeriCorps leaders to deliver our program, in partnership with local city organizations, to high-need schools across the South Bronx, Harlem, and Central Brooklyn.

Our program consists of three areas of service:

  1. Hands on Lessons- service members teach cooking, gardening, and tasting since kids love foods they have grown and prepared themselves.
  2. Healthy School Meals- service members create a cafeteria that steers students towards the healthiest options and gets them excited to try new healthy foods.
  3. A Schoolwide Culture of Health- service members help the whole school community- everything from the teachers to the hallways to the bakesales- celebrate healthy food

Number of staff: FoodCorps national has 36 staff, but the FoodCorps New York program is led by two

Number of volunteers: 250

Areas served: Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan

Date started: FoodCorps’ first program year was in 2010, but FoodCorps New York launched in fall of 2015

Director: Curt Ellis

Contact information: https://foodcorps.org/, (646) 558-6407

 

Photo credit: FoodCorps

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