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TFP Launches MA FoodCorps Initiative

 

The Food Project is excited to launch a major new effort to increase affordable, local food access for low-income children and their families in eastern Massachusetts. Beginning this fall, in partnership with CitySprouts and Boston Public Schools (BPS), TFP will be working on farm-to-school and school gardening projects in Boston, Lynn, and Gloucester. We are calling this partnership the Massachusetts FoodCorps Initiative.

This work is made possible by FoodCorps, a new AmeriCorps program that places service members for one year in high-need communities to improve children’s education about and access to healthy, locally grown food.

The driving theme for this work is partnership, beginning with CitySprouts and the Food and Nutrition Services Department of BPS. CitySprouts is a highly respected nonprofit with a strong track record working with public schools to develop school gardens as a learning resource for teachers. They also help teachers extend what they do in the classroom to the food-growing garden classroom.

BPS’s Food and Nutrition Services Department serves over 34,000 students each day, 75 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Three years ago, BPS piloted a Farm to School Initiative that now serves a locally grown item on the cafeteria menu every Thursday in 46 cafeterias across the city.

More broadly, through this initiative, we’ll be seeking out and strengthening partnerships with communities, including teachers and other school officials, and the children and parents they serve. Working together in this way, we’ll accomplish far more than any of us could have done alone.

FoodCorps service members will work in three main areas. First, through after-school programs at schools in the North Shore communities of Lynn and Gloucester, they will work with families and equip them with the resources to exert greater control over the food they eat, both at home and in school.

Second, under CitySprouts’ leadership, service members will help introduce the group’s innovative school gardening model to Gloucester elementary schools, focusing on supporting teachers’ use of gardens to achieve academic and nutrition learning goals.

Finally, they will work on and strengthen the farm-to-school outreach and awareness-raising campaign currently being piloted by the Farm to School Initiative of BPS. This follows on the success from three years of intensive work by the BPS’s Food and Nutrition Services to source local produce for the 46 schools in the system that have full-kitchen cafeteria facilities.

The Massachusetts FoodCorps Initiative was chosen as one of FoodCorps’ 10 host organizations following a highly competitive process from 108 prospective host sites across the country. This is also the first year of this program, and as an inaugural host site, we’re looking forward to broadening our work in the coming years.

As we get closer to the fall, we’ll be providing more updates about this exciting venture. So please be sure to revisit our website and all the other places on the Internet that The Food Project calls home.

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