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FoodCorps recruiting next ‘class’ to connect school kids to real food and help them grow up healthy

MISSOULA — This week FoodCorps, a national organization that addresses childhood obesity and food insecurity in underserved communities, opens applications for its third annual class of service members.

The selected emerging leaders will dedicate one year of full-time public service in school food systems – expanding hands-on nutrition education programs, building and tending school gardens, and bringing high quality local foods into school cafeterias.

In its first two years FoodCorps gained national attention by attracting more than 1,000 applicants each year for its 50-80 positions, and by providing an innovative, grassroots, scalable approach to solving our national obesity epidemic. Since 1980, the percentage of American children who are overweight or obese has doubled. With one in four U.S. children struggling with hunger and one in three obese or overweight, FoodCorps addresses the root cause of both: access to healthy food. Each year since its inception, FoodCorps has expanded its reach and grown its ranks.

The first two FoodCorps classes have brought important progress to the schools they serve—from making local beef and lentils staples in Montana cafeterias, to getting Mississippi students excited to harvest bushels of kale; from building or revitalizing hundreds of school and community gardens, to engaging thousands of volunteers and parents in their efforts.

Peter Kerns, a current FoodCorps member serving with Missoula County Public Schools, says “I’ve always known that I want my life’s work to be about bringing better, healthier food to those who need it but only after serving with FoodCorps have I gained the skills and knowledge to actually make a difference.”

For its third class, FoodCorps seeks up to 130 men and women with a passion for serving their country as AmeriCorps service members. In addition to the 12 states where it currently operates—Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon— FoodCorps plans to expand to California, Hawai’i and New Jersey in 2013. “The placements FoodCorps offers are as diverse as the country we serve,” said Executive Director Curt Ellis, “From urban Detroit to rural Arkansas to our new sites in Hawai’i, you can find a place in FoodCorps that feels like home––or one that launches you on a new adventure.”

Applications are due March 24. Emerging leaders interested in getting more information should go to http://foodcorps.org/become-a-service-member.

FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy. FoodCorps places these leaders in limited-resource communities for a year of public service where they conduct hands-on food education, build and tend school gardens, and facilitate getting high-quality local food into public school cafeterias. Funding for FoodCorps is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, AmeriCorps, and a diverse array of private and public donors.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is the host site for FoodCorps, Montana. NCAT champions small-scale, local, and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources.

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