Program: Healthy Food & Community Change
Area of Work: Health
Grant Purpose: FoodCorps in New York City
FoodCorps recruits, trains and places AmeriCorps leaders for year-long terms of service with local initiatives and fosters alignment with evidence-based strategies to transform schools into places that nourish children’s bodies, minds and hearts. Students grow, cook and taste new foods. Programs also steer students toward healthiest choices in their school cafeterias, create new healthy food initiatives; and work on strategies to drive cultural and policy shifts in child health, and policy reform at all levels of decision making.
Purpose: To support the New York City programs
The Illumination Fund provided start-up funding for FoodCorps to create its New York City program, which adapted its programs from cities and states across the country. In New York City, FoodCorps galvanizes a network of partners; aligns collective efforts, strategies and common metrics; and places Corps members under the partners’ direction to help scale up the work in communities of need. Partners include Bronx Health REACH Institute for Family Health, Children’s Aid Society, Edible Schoolyard NYC, Wellness in the Schools, Harlem Grown, New Settlement Apartments, and New York Common Pantry.
FoodCorps New York is working to address inequities in New York City by investing in key neighborhoods identified by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; East and Central Harlem (Community Districts 110-11), South Bronx (CDs 201-6), and North and Central Brooklyn (CDs 303-5, 316). Corps Members partner with school communities to promote healthy school food environments in ways that suit both the unique circumstances of NYC’s large, urban school system, and the individual cultures of partner schools.
FoodCorps measures changes in school food environments with its research-backed Healthy School Progress Report, an evaluation tool developed in partnership with the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy at Columbia University’s Teachers College; the Healthy Food Progress Report guides and measures changes in the physical and cultural factors shown to influence what kids eat— holistically referred to as the “school food environment.” FoodCorps also measures shifts in children’s preference for vegetables —one of the strongest predictors of a healthy diet —with its Vegetable Preference Survey administered in FoodCorps classrooms.
Over the course of the 2018-2019 program year, the 15-member New York corps taught more than 2,000 students for 10+ hours (a recognized threshold for behavior change), and they taught over 2,000 hands-on lessons in school gardens and classrooms.