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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems to be a FoodCorps host site for 2011


November 30, 2010



Debra Eschmeyer

(419) 905-8612


Colleen Matts

(517) 432-0310




 C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University to be

one of FoodCorps’ inaugural host sites for 2011


EAST LANSING, MI FoodCorps, a new national AmeriCorps school garden and Farm to School service program, announced today the states and partners it will collaborate with to launch the initiative in 2011. The C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems (Mott Group) at Michigan State University is one of ten organizations across the country that will work with FoodCorps to help serve vulnerable children, improve access to healthy, affordable food, and train young leaders for careers in food and agriculture.


Altogether, FoodCorps plans to put 82 members on the ground in ten states to work a total of 139,400 hours during the 2011-2012 school year. Utilizing the public service model of AmeriCorps, FoodCorps will leverage federal funds to place young adults in high-need communities, with the mission of improving children’s education about and access to healthy food. FoodCorps service members will build and tend school gardens, provide nutrition education, and help develop local food purchasing, or farm to school, programs at school sites.


FoodCorps is a great fit for the Mott Group, whose mission is to engage communities in applied research and outreach to promote sustainable food systems, with a goal to improve access and availability of locally-produced food. The Mott Group has worked in the farm to school arena for the past six years, providing technical assistance, research, resources, and policy education that have been critical to the expansion of farm to school throughout the state.


“We are excited for the opportunity to bring FoodCorps to Michigan and provide more people-power to valuable farm to school, school garden, and nutrition education programs in high need schools and communities,” said Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist with the Mott Group. Matts also hopes that FoodCorps can help realize the vision of the Michigan Good Food Charter and meet some of its goals for 2020, namely that institutions will source 20% of their food products from Michigan; schools will incorporate food and agriculture into the pre-K through 12th grade curriculum; youth will have access to food and agriculture entrepreneurial activities; and 80% of Michigan residents (twice the current level) will have easy access to affordable, fresh, healthy food.


To plan for the first year of FoodCorps, the Mott Group has been working closely with partner organizations including the Michigan Land Use Institute, Food System Economic Partnership, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, and the Michigan Department of Community Health. All organizations hope to host FoodCorps service members through their programs, but details on partners and school sites will be determined pending funding and other national program decisions in the coming months.


Julie Sielawa, Executive Director of Community Outreach at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids said, “The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids looks forward to the opportunity to host FoodCorps members, which will allow the YMCA to improve access to fresh food in Grand Rapids’ food desert communities and educate children about the benefits of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables.”


“The Michigan Land Use Institute has seen tremendous interest in farm to school programs as a way to help kids eat healthy while also investing in the region's important local farm economy,” said Diane Conners, a Senior Policy Specialist with the organization based in northwest Michigan. “More than 40 schools or early childhood programs here now source local farm products for school meals or snacks, and FoodCorps will help make those programs grow stronger, launch new ones, and connect more kids to tasty food from farms and gardens.”


Other host sites selected for FoodCorps 2011-2012 include: 

·         Arkansas: The Delta Garden Study at Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute

·         Arizona: Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

·         Iowa: National Center for Appropriate Technology

·         Massachusetts: The Food Project

·         Maine: University of Maine Cooperative Extension

·         Mississippi: Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity 

·         North Carolina: North Carolina State University 4-H 

·         New Mexico: Office of Community Learning and Public Service at the University of New Mexico 

·         Oregon: Oregon Department of Agriculture 


As a pioneer in applying the proven model of national service to the widening epidemic of childhood obesity, FoodCorps and the ten chosen host sites are poised to improve the wellbeing of thousands of children in its first year and millions over the next decade.


For more information on FoodCorps, visit

For more information on the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University, visit



FoodCorps is a national AmeriCorps program that focuses on service in rural, urban, and suburban school food systems that have children challenged with high rates of obesity and limited access to healthy foods. A nonprofit organization, FoodCorps was developed with funding from AmeriCorps and the WK Kellogg Foundation, in partnership with Occidental College, the National Farm to School Network, Slow Food USA, The National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Wicked Delicate.







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