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FoodCorps seeks next crop of hard-working service membersPrint

Food & Farming | January 30, 2013 | By Diane Conners

Daniel Marbury and Kirsten Gerbatsch are finishing up their second year as MLUI's FoodCorps Service Members. 

Wanted: Energetic, creative, hard-working leaders who are passionate about healthy food, kids, and communities.

Is that you? Or anyone else you know?

FoodCorps, a national organization affiliated with AmeriCorps, is accepting applications through March 24 for up to 130 positions nationwide—including two in northwest Lower Michigan based out of the Michigan Land Use Institute’s Traverse City office.

FoodCorps addresses childhood obesity and poverty-related hunger by placing emerging leaders into one year of full-time public service in schools. These service members expand hands-on nutrition education programs, build and tend school gardens, and bring high-quality local foods into school cafeterias.

In northwest Lower Michigan, MLUI’s two FoodCorps Service Members are part of a team that serves elementary schools in eight school districts in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties.

Kirsten Gerbatsch is completing her second and last year in the Traverse City program. Two new FoodCorps members will be hired for the next year.

"There is really nothing better than teaching kids where food comes from and watching their faces light up as they taste the first carrot they harvest from the school garden,” she said. “These are small but powerful life experiences for children that will impact their food choices, and therefore their health, throughout their whole lives."

Daniel Marbury, MLUI’s other out-going FoodCorps member, remembers a second-grader who tried locally grown winter squash in a taste test in the school cafeteria. She later came up to him and told him that she liked it so much that her family now cooks it at home—for breakfast. With cinnamon.

FoodCorps is a valuable opportunity for anyone interested in a career in food systems, nutrition, farming, food service, education, or policy.

"MLUI provided me with incredible professional development opportunities to learn about and participate in local food and farming initiatives,” Kirsten said. “These opportunities have really influenced my career interests and goals.”

In its first two years, FoodCorps attracted more than 1,000 applicants each year for 50-80 positions. This year there will be 130 positions in 15 states.

"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 Hawaii, 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. For more information, visit http://foodcorps.org/become-a-service-member.

Funding for FoodCorps is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, AmeriCorps, and private and public donors. Local funders for MLUI’s program match include Herrington-Fitch Family Foundation and the Aline Underhill Orten Foundation.