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Recruitment for next Lake County FoodCorps service member underway

Friday, March 4, 2016

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – FoodCorps, a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect children to locally grown food and help them grow up healthy, is seeking to recruit a local service member.

The individual will work in partnership with North Coast Opportunities Inc. in Clearlake, the service site for FoodCorps in Lake County for the 2016-17 school year.

Applications to apply for FoodCorps service are due by March 31, 2016.

The person selected 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.

“What we feed our children in school – and what we teach them about food there – shapes their health and success over a lifetime. By joining FoodCorps, you will have a chance to do something incredibly important: connect children to healthy food, and give them the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive,” said Curt Ellis, FoodCorps co-founder and Chief Executive Officer.

Current Lake County FoodCorps Service Member Ben Feldman agrees. “I love serving with FoodCorps because I believe in the value of this organization,” said Feldman. “It is a joy seeing how excited my students become to eat freshly harvested produce. Cultivating an appreciation of good food, in my opinion, is a crucial component of any effort to improve our food systems.”

For a year of full-time FoodCorps service, service members are eligible to receive a $17,500 living allowance, $5,775 AmeriCorps Segal Education Award, student loan forbearance, health insurance, partial childcare reimbursements, training and mentorship, alumni network and the experience of a lifetime.

Service members must be 18 years or older by the start of service (September 1, 2016), be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident of the United States and hold a high school diploma, GED or equivalent.

Successful FoodCorps service members are passionate about building a healthier future for school children, are motivated to serve full-time in a limited resource community, have experience working in or studying food systems, agriculture, public health, education, community organizing, or public service.

Ideally, the new Lake County FoodCorps service member already has roots planted in this community, is seeking an opportunity to gain hands-on experience for their career, and is committed to working hard in order to make a difference.

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 2009, FoodCorps has expanded its reach and grown its ranks to now include Lake County, thanks to their partnership with North Coast Opportunities Inc., or NCO, the service site for the program in Clearlake.

“Our current FoodCorps service member is such an inspiration to the students at Lower Lake and East Lake elementary schools,” said Terre Logsdon, the Lake County Farm to School coordinator for NCO. “By preparing food and offering taste tests, he is introducing students to fruits and vegetables that they hadn’t tried before – and find they like – which in turn helps these students to consume vegetables that previously they would not have eaten. My hope is that for the next service year, we can recruit someone to serve that is from right here in Lake County.”

The FoodCorps service member will work with NCO’s Lake County Farm to School program, which is working to increase the number and prosperity of local farmers by bringing more local produce to school lunch menus.

Modeled after NCO’s successful Farm2Fork program in Mendocino County, the Lake County Farm to School project aims to increase the capacity of both local farmers and food service professionals to get local, fresh, and healthy food from the field to the plate.

Funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) through 2017, NCO will continue to seek funding to continue expanding farm to plate programs throughout Lake County.

The FoodCorps service member will carry out a variety of activities to further encourage changes in school food cultures by building student interest in and enjoyment of the healthier local foods that their school cafeterias are offering.

These activities will range from classroom- and garden-based nutrition education lessons to cafeteria taste testing. As the schools build and develop their capacity to use local produce, they will serve as replicable models for schools throughout the community and the county.

“The demand for FoodCorps across the country is a signal that communities are ready to address childhood health through the transformation of the school food environment,” said Cecily Upton, FoodCorps co-founder and vice president of programs. “We are excited to continue our growth into new communities, with the assistance of strong host organizations there.”

Applications are due March 31, 2016.

Emerging local leaders interested in serving as a FoodCorps service member should visit the NCO Web site at www.ncoinc.org/programs/farm-to-school-lake-county/lake-county-foodcorps 

Program(s) Involved: Lake County Farm to School