Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This is Genius

Too often, the news is bad regarding childhood nutrition.

In just the past few weeks, there have been reports of fake blueberries:

...fake meat...

And Chinese chickens.

“We had it [a large piece of chicken] tested and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes. They all would have tested positive.”
Frank Puleo, a caterer from Staten Island who traveled to China to handle food-related issues for the US Olympic Team, as quoted in a 2008 New York Times article 

Yeah, those chickens.

That's why the announcement of Food Corps is so welcome. Finally, some good news for the kids.

Food Corps is one of those thump-yourself-on-the-forehead ideas that are greeted with "Of course! Why haven't we done this before?" It's modeled after the super-successful Teach for America (TFA) program, in which young college grads are placed in low-performing schools and use their recently minted degrees to combat educational inequity - the concept that where a child is born determines the quality of his or her education and therefore, the student's life prospects. TFA reaches more than 500,000 students annually. But it does more than have an immediate (and measurable, btw) impact on the classroom. TFA's experiences allow those young teachers to develop an up-close-and-personal understanding of the educational system, which then enables them - all 20,000 alums thus far - to play leadership roles in systemic, long-term change.

Enter Food Corps.

Instead of placing young, talented people in schools as teachers, Food Corps will take those eager beavers and place them in the food systems of schools where childhood obesity levels are significant. The Food Corps volunteers will work on farm-to-school food initiatives, build and maintain community gardens, and teach elementary-school aged kids about nutrition. The ultimate goal of the organization is to increase the health and prosperity of vulnerable children, while investing in the next generation of farmers and public health leaders. Like TFA, Food Corps is affiliated with AmeriCorps. It is currently a national planning grantee of AmeriCorps (TFA is a program of AmeriCorps) and is applying to AmeriCorps for funding.

Here's a video explaining Food Corps.

The program is beginning with 10 host sites, but the goal is for Food Corps eventually to be active in all 50 states. If you know of a young college soon-to-be-grad, this is a great opportunity to get involved early in what promises to be a sought-after opportunity for him or her and a life-changer for the communities in which they will serve.

See? Genius.


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