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FoodCorps: Sowing the Seeds for A Healthy Life

by Samantha Jo Warfield

USDA data shows that only 2% of kids eat enough fruits and vegetables and 1 in 4 young adults are too overweight to qualify for military service. Statistics like these don't exactly paint a hopeful picture for the future. But a new national service organization, FoodCorps, has set out to change that.

Dedicated to addressing our country's childhood obesity epidemic through school gardens and farm-to-school programs, FoodCorps inaugural season will deploy AmeriCorps members to sites in 10 states: Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon.

Earlier this week the first class of 50 FoodCorps members convened in Milwaukee, WI, for an intensive week-long training that included hands-on instruction on how to build gardens and educate children about nutrition among other things.

“These young leaders are dedicating a year of their lives to help give kids a relationship with healthy food that we hope will last a lifetime,” said Curt Ellis, co-founder and executive director of FoodCorps, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, “King Corn.”

FoodCorps members will not only be responsible for creating school gardens, but will provide nutrition and healthy food education to students. They will also work with local food service directors to source meal ingredients from local farmers, supporting local economies while encouraging environmentally friendly practices.

“FoodCorps is part of something that is large, interesting, dynamic, and important,” said AmeriCorps Director John Gomperts at the FoodCorps inaugural event on August 16.

America's children are in crisis. In the last 30 years, the number of obese children has tripled, with little sign of slowing down, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs AmeriCorps, is committed to supporting efforts to reverse this crisis. By funding programs like FoodCorps and hosting initiatives like Let's Read. Let's Move., the Corporation supports smart solutions to national problems.

“As a nation, we are tightening our fiscal belt, yet health-related obesity costs are projected to reach $344 billion by 2018. FoodCorps is a sound investment in a healthy future and gives our kids a chance to beat back the painful and costly epidemic of diet-related disease,” said co-founder and FoodCorps Program Director Debra Eschmeyer, herself a produce farmer and former outreach director of the National Farm to School Network.

You can join the fight against childhood obesity by searching for related opportunities in your area on serve.gov or using a toolkit to create your own community garden or walking team or to promote back to school health.

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