MLUI is so excited to introduce the two new FoodCorps service members who will be working from our office to promote and encourage local food and healthy eating at area schools. Here’s a brief hello from them both in their own words.
|Meghan McDermott , right, and Katie Zbrozek|
As a Local Foods Coordinator/Educator and FoodCorps service member at MLUI, I am excited to begin work connecting farmers, teachers, students, parents and community members to each other and the rich agricultural community of northwestern Michigan. Over the next year I will work with food service staff and school administrators to bring more local food into school cafeterias as well as collaborate with teachers in order to incorporate food and nutrition education into the existing curriculum.
At a personal level, I have deep roots in the distinctly un-local world of fast food. I grew up with a somewhat geographically bipolar adolescent existence- my father lived in a small, rural community in Illinois (where the manager at the local McDonald’s knew my dad and I by name) while my mother maintained residence in downtown Chicago. This unique experience has led to a more thorough understanding of the nuances of our national food system than I could have hoped to grasp through any other means.
As my interest in the local food movement and child nutrition grew, I was fortunate enough to find mentors who were able to guide me in my endless quest for immersion in a world that had been largely foreign to me growing up. I recently graduated from Vassar College in New York’s Hudson Valley, where I majored in Food and Sustainability studies as well as Psychology. Throughout my time at Vassar I was able to found and manage a student chapter of Slow Food USA, spend two years working part-time at a grass-fed and organic butcher shop, intern with the education program at an urban farm, and serve as an academic advisor to a multidisciplinary program on food and agriculture.
I am excited to be back in the Midwest and look forward to bringing my passion and enthusiasm for local food economies, healthy kids and education to this vibrant community.
As a new FoodCorps service member, I am excited to partner with MLUI and the growing farm to school community in this area. My focus for the next year will be on building and engaging kids in school gardens, and bringing lessons from the garden into the classroom and cafeteria. I will also be working with teachers and schools to utilize the gardens we have so they become a sturdy part of each community.
Born, raised, and educated in Michigan, I had little knowledge or experience with our state’s vast agricultural resources and diversity until attending the University of Michigan, where I met students, teachers, and community members interested in eating locally and supporting farmers. I visited farms, and met farmers who shared their stories and passion for their work. I look forward to helping others discover this world before they reach their 20s.
As a student, I focused on education and sustainable agriculture within my major in U of M’s Program in the Environment. Following that, I joined the farming community as a farmer for three seasons in Chelsea, Mich., with Tantre Farm and Community Farm of Ann Arbor. In my free time and during the off seasons I worked to support a farm to school organization bringing farmers right into elementary school classes, and as a teacher at a nature center. I look forward to bringing my experiences and skills as a farmer and a teacher to enhance the farm to school portion of this impressive community.