North Carolina to serve as FoodCorps site for program to help grow healthy children

Date posted: December 1, 2010

Media Contacts:
At North Carolina State University:
Liz Driscoll, North Carolina Cooperative Extension associate, 919.513.7346 or liz_driscoll@ncsu.edu
Tes Thraves, North Carolina Cooperative Extension associate, 919.619.8897 or tes_thraves@ncsu.edu
At FoodCorps: Debra Eschmeyer, 419.905.8612

The North Carolina 4-H program and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems will be hosts in North Carolina of FoodCorps, a new national AmeriCorps program designed to give children improved access to healthy, affordable food while training young leaders for careers in food and agriculture.

An application submitted on behalf of 4-H and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems was one of 10 chosen nationwide from a total of 108 to pilot the FoodCorps program. Both 4-H and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, or CEFS, are programs of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. Other partners in CEFS are North Carolina A&T State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Liz Driscoll, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension associate at N.C. State University, will direct the overall North Carolina program, working in partnership with Tes Thraves, also an extension associate. Driscoll leads Cooperative Extension youth horticulture programs across the state, while Thraves coordinates Cooperative Extension community-based food systems for CEFS.

Driscoll said FoodCorps will provide funding to hire eight to 10 FoodCorps members, recruited from both within the state and across the country. These FoodCorps members will work with schools at five locations in Gaston, Moore, Guilford and Warren counties and in the New Hanover and Brunswick county area. At these sites, FoodCorps members will build and tend school gardens, conduct nutrition education and work to increase the amount of local, fresh produce served in lunchroom cafeterias. The program will begin with the 2011-2012 school year.

Nationwide, FoodCorps will put 82 members on the ground in 10 states to work 139,400 hours during the 2011-2012 school year. Using the AmeriCorps public service model, FoodCorps  places young adults in high-need communities with the mission of improving children’s knowledge and access to healthy food. FoodCorps also gives hands-on training to future farmers and food systems professionals. FoodCorps service members involved in this program will receive training and support from the FoodCorps national office, then be placed across the country, where they will be directed by local organizations.

In North Carolina, 4-H and CEFS are joining with the Physical Activity and Nutrition branch of the state Division of Public Health as well as N.C. Cooperative Extension county offices, local organizations and schools to support the FoodCorps effort.

FoodCorps, a New York-based nonprofit organization, is a national AmeriCorps program that focuses on service in rural, urban and suburban school food systems where children are challenged with high rates of obesity and limited access to healthy foods. FoodCorps was developed with funding from AmeriCorps and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in partnership with Occidental College, the National Farm to School Network, Slow Food USA, the National Center for Appropriate Technology and Wicked Delicate, as part of an open planning process engaging stakeholders from around the country. More information is available at www.food-corps.org.

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