I got back from my whirlwind Colorado adventure Wednesday night. Now I just have some laundry to do, paperwork to fill out, and people to see before jumping on a plane to Portland on Sunday morning for FoodCorps’ week-long orientation. The excitement phase of being selected as a FoodCorps Service Member is quickly transforming into reality as my carefree days of “fun-employment” melt away (DC humidity reference).
Many people have asked me about FoodCorps’ organizational structure, their policies, where they get their funding from, and, most importantly, what exactly I’ll be doing in Mississippi as a Service Member. I’ve tried to answer as best I could, but the truth is that I’m also finding out more each day as I receive emails from FoodCorps staff, learn about my service site, and read through our extensive Service Member Manual.
What is FoodCorps? FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders (now in 15 states) that connect kids with real food and help them grow up healthy. Like Teach for America and Habitat for Humanity, it is an independent non-profit that is affiliated with Americorps. But it is not a government program–only about 20% of the budget comes from federal funds and the rest comes from private donations.
Who exactly will you be working with? Here’s where the answer gets a little more layered. FoodCorps has a statewide partner in each state they serve, called the Host Site. Mississippi’s Host Site is the Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity, located in Jackson. The Host Site Supervisor, Willie Nash, will supervise me and all of the other MS FoodCorps Service Members. On a more localized level, there are the Service Sites, which are FoodCorps’ community partners. These Service Sites can be schools, cooperatives, non-profits, etc., and they oversee Service Members’ day-to-day activities. My Service Site is the Magnolia Speech School, a private non-profit elementary school that specializes in teaching kids with communication disorders. I’ll be helping them build their school garden (possibly with chickens!!!!), source local produce for their school cafeteria, and incorporate nutrition and gardening into their curriculum.
I created the little diagram below to help visualize the overall structure of FoodCorps Mississippi.
I wanted to talk more about the Magnolia Speech School, but this post is already longer than I anticipated and I don’t want to wear out my very small pool of readers. I’ll just tell you that based on my own research and talking with my Service Site Supervisor, Prentiss Theus McClendon, the school sounds like an incredible community of teachers, parents, and kids. For now, I encourage you to check out their website. And I’ll tantalize you with this short news clip featuring the school and one of its students.