Saving America's Diet, One Kid at a Time
In our chattering world it’s easy to forget the difference between watching and doing. We drink each other’s social-media bathwater, "Like" mashup videos, and tweet our caffeinated cleverness. But last night I had the privilege of meeting some people who are actually doing something: the first group of “service members” who signed up for a year of fieldwork with FoodCorps (which is Cooking Light’s charity partner). FoodCorps is founded on the Peace Corps model, embedding young people, many with food or nutrition expertise, in US school districts to help plant gardens, teach about food and its connection to health, and work with cafeterias and school boards to improve the quality of what kids are eating. Last night’s event in Washington, DC, was the first time the whole group of nearly 50 had come together, and it would be hard to exaggerate how excited and inspiring these folks are. They're working on Indian reservations in Arizona (where poverty and obesity levels are an appalling national shame, and fresh produce is an hour’s drive away); baking bread in New Mexico (to raise money to buy produce for kids’ smoothies); using food-choice decisions to teach critical thinking in Iowa; and planting gardens in Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina and Arkansas.
Going in, I suppose I was a bit of skeptical: What can a handful of young food idealists do for the national good at the local level? Coming out, I realized that, aside from their power to change the lives of children they meet—any kid would be lucky to spend time with these young men and women—there are bigger fish being fried: These are people who are keeping the idea of doing alive, by example and for the sheer joy of it.
If this sounds hopeful, and it is, donate some money to this fledgling organization. I assure you, it will do some good, nourish some lives.
Photo courtesy: Whitney Kidder
In the photo: Left to right: Laura Budde, assistant White House chef Sam Kass, Josh Kanter, Rachel Spencer, Stephanie Lip, Maricio Rosas-Alvarez.