The Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project: A Gillings Innovative Laboratory

Get Involved With FoodCorps

By: Christine Sun

Nutrition 245 Spring 2012

April 24, 2012

Mission Statement: “Through the hands and minds of young leaders, FoodCorps strives to give all youth an enduring relationship with healthy food.”iv

What is Food Corps?

FoodCorps was founded in 2010 by Curt Ellis, Debra Eschmeyer, and Cecily Upton along with 3 other co-founders.iv,viii

  • The co-founders  started working together after President Obama put the Kennedy Serve America Act into law in 2009.iii, xi
  • This law greatly increased the positions available in service programs.

FoodCorps is funded by AmeriCorps along with other individual donors. iii

It is a nationwide service organization aimed to fight obesity and diet-related diseases.ii

FoodCorps is currently made of 50 members that are positioned in 10 states:  Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon.v


What are the health challenges in America?

  • Childhood obesity has tripled within the past 30 years.i
  • Obese youth are more likely to develop adult health problems such as cardiovascular diseases.i
  • Obesity is associated with many different types of cancer.i

What is FoodCorps’ solution?

  • FoodCorps has designed a program to combat childhood obesity on a bigger scale.ii, iv, v
  • Service members are positioned in communities in need for 1 year.viii
  • The program is designed to give the youth a good understanding of healthy food.iv

What do FoodCorps members do?

  • Service members collaborate with teachers to include nutrition education into the curriculum.iv
  • They also help build school gardens to engage the students.
    • Studies show that children are more willing to try fruits and vegetables if they grow it themselves.ix, vii
    • Other studies have shown that garden-based nutrition education increase children’s intake of fruits and vegetables.ix,x
    • Children with healthy eating habits are shown to continue those healthy habits through, xii
  • Members also help to create relationships between schools and local farmers so that there is more access to fresh produce.xiii

What are the benefits of being a service member? iv

  • Get work experience as a public health leader.
  • Receive $15,000 stipend and $5,500 education award.
  • Also receive health insurance and childcare.

Who does FoodCorps work with?

  • FoodCorps collaborates with many other organizations that share similar goals to promote healthy behavior among the youth.
  • They have received grants from many organizations such as AmeriCorps and the Kellogg Foundation.iv
  • In 2012, FoodCorps joined forces with Cooking Light to show kids that healthy food can also be good-tasting food.ii

What is the future of FoodCorps?

  • FoodCorps hopes to expand and have double the service members by next year.
    • Their goal is to have 1,000 members in every state by 2020. iv
  • FoodCorps will continue to play an important role in the school garden movement and farm-to-school.vii
  • They are also looking to add more members to the founding board.

For more information, go to or follow on Twitter (@FoodCorps).

Annotated Bibliography

i Childhood obesity facts. (2011, September 15).  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Retrieved from

This webpage gives facts about childhood obesity.  It lists short-term and long-term health effects along with ways to prevent obesity.  The article says that schools are an important factor in instilling healthy behaviors among the youth.  FoodCorps helps schools to encourage good health choices and build school gardens.

ii (2011). Cooking Light and FoodCorps team up to create a healthier generation of kids. Obesity, Fitness, & Wellness Week.  Retrieved from

This article talks about the joint effort between Cooking Light and FoodCorps to promote nutrition education and healthy behavior.  They are reaching out to the public by many outlets such as events, magazines, and media.   Their collaboration will hopefully garner support and awareness of their goals to have people lead healthier lifestyles.

iii Field, K. (2009). President gets bill tripling size of AmeriCorps.  The Chronicles of Higher Education, 55(31), Retrieved from

In this article, Kelly Field recaps the legislation passed under President Obama that expands national service programs.  The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act greatly increases the number of positions in the AmeriCorps program and encourages more service learning.  This has encouraged FoodCorps to start innovative programs that solve health issues in America.

iv FoodCorps: Annual Report 2010-2011.(2011). Retrieved from

This annual report outlines the health challenges in America and how FoodCorps plans to provide a solution.  We are given FoodCorps’ three ingredients of the recipe for school food change which are knowledge, engagement, and access.  The report also gives a history of how and when FoodCorps was founded.  FoodCorps also works in collaboration with other organizations to achieve the same goals.  Lastly, the report shows where FoodCorps receives their major funding and how they use that money.

v (2011). FoodCorps national service program kicks off with inaugural training for 50 youth leaders.  Food Weekly News, Retrieved from

This short article summarizes the main goals of FoodCorps.  Fifty members have been trained and placed in 10 states to build school gardens and develop Farm to School programs in communities.  FoodCorps has received funding from AmeriCorps and other individual donors .

vi French, S., Kaphingst,K., & Story, M. (2006). The role of schools in obesity prevention.  Childhood Obesity, 16(1), 109-142.

In this article, Simone French, Karen Kaphingst, and Mary Story argue that schools can help prevent obesity by having access to healthy food and through nutrition education.  They say that schools can have healthier food options without spending more money.  They also provide data that shows many children do not meet national nutritional guidelines or get the recommended physical activity.  Obesity is becoming more prevalent, and this article argues that schools can team up with the community and policymakers to help children develop healthy habits that can continue with them through adulthood.

vii Gottlieb, R., Haase, M., & Vallianatos, M. (2004). Farm-to-school: Strategies for urban health, combating sprawl, and establishing a community food systems approach.  Journal of Planning Education and Research, 23(4), 414-423. 

In this article, Mark Vallianatos, Robert Gottlieb, and Margaret Ann Haase analyze the effects of farm-to-school in health benefits and nutrition education among the youth.  They define farm-to-school as a way to connect schools with local farmers.  This provides local farmers an extra market to sell to and gives schools fresh produce.  Both parties benefit from farm-to-school programs.  The article also parallels the rise in farm-to-school with the increasing attention on obesity issues.  They argue that farm-to-school can help combat obesity and diet-related diseases.  By changing student’s eating habits, farm-to-school can have a positive effect on health issues.

viii Masterson, K. (2012, February 1).  Introducing FoodCorps.  Harvest, Retreived from

In this article, Harvest Public Media’s Kathleen Masterson interviews FoodCorps co-founder Deb Eschmeyer about the organization.  FoodCorps is a service project that aims to accomplish many things such as teaching nutrition, building school gardens, and improving access to fresh foods.  Eschmeyer said the six founders came together to start FoodCorps in order to get the youth involved with the food movement.  They also wanted to fight against obesity and food insecurity.  Eschmeyer describes the projects that the 50 FoodCorps members work on and how well they have been received in communities.  Deb Eschmeyer is very enthusiastic about farming and that children will want to eat the foods that they grow.

ix McAleese, J., & Rankin, L. (2007). Garden-based nutrition education affects fruit and vegetable consumption in sixth-grade adolescents.  Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(4), 662-665. 

A study was done to observe the results of garden-based nutrition education on young children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables.  The article also summarizes the positive health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.  It also refers to other studies that support healthy eating behaviors at a young age can persist through adulthood.  The results of the study are that nutrition education and school gardens increase students’ fruit and vegetable consumption.  This shows that these programs can help fight against childhood obesity and diet-related diseases.

x Ozer, E.J. (2007).  The effects of school gardens on students and schools: Conceptualization and considerations for maximizing healthy development. Health Education and Behavior, 34(6), 846-863.

In this article, Emily J. Ozer summarizes how school gardens can impact students and schools, and ways to improve this practice.  She argues that school garden programs can improve students’ academics and health behaviors.  Ozer discusses the factors that can promote the sustainability of school garden programs.

xi Spodak, C. (2011, October 12). FoodCorps plants food activism in American schools.  Retreived from

This article summarizes how a group of individuals created FoodCorps when President Obama signed the Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009.  Even with discouraging statistics about obesity, FoodCorps was designed to improve youth health behaviors for long-term changes.  In this article, we are also introduced to members of FoodCorps and learn how they adjusted to working with their communities.  FoodCorps is taking small yet effective steps to integrate nutrition education into schools and creating relationships with local farmers and schools.

xii Veugelers, P.J., & Fitzgerald, A.L. (2005). Effectiveness of school programs in preventing childhood obesity: a multilevel comparison. American Journal of Public Health, 95(3), 432-435. Retrieved from

In this study, Paul J. Veugelers and Angela L. Fitzgerald surveyed schools that with and without nutrition programs.  They found that students from schools with healthy eating programs showed noticeable lower rates of obesity than students from schools with no nutrition programs.  They argue that schools need to implement successful eating and nutrition programs in order to help combat childhood obesity.

xiii Walsh, B. (2011, August 23).  Can FoodCorps get America to eat healthfully? Time, Retrieved from,8599,2089995,00.html.

In this article, Bryan Walsh talks about the problems of obesity and diet-related diseases and how FoodCorps plan to fight against those problems.  We are introduced to David Pecusa who is a member of a Native American tribe and one of fifty members of FoodCorps.  Walsh argues that there are more than enough people willing to support the sustainable-food movement.  This is shown by over 1,000 people applying for the fifty available positions for FoodCorps.  Even though the program is just starting off, the members are hopeful that they can get the youth interested in growing their own food and thereby increasing access to healthy foods.




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