FoodCorps has more service members this year than ever before. Our 205 Service Members reach over 500 schools in 17 states (plus Washington D.C.!). We all first met each other at the August 2015 orientation, and in meeting others, I was surprised how many distinct backgrounds we had. One woman was a preschool teacher. One man was on track to be a registered dietitian. Another has devoted her life to organic farming. There didn’t seem to be common trends in college majors or past work experience. The orientation kicked off our year of service and since then we’ve been chipping away at the goals of our own individual service sites.

FoodCorps service members recently reunited at Regional Mid-Year Gatherings. At ours, I got to see service members from Arizona, California, New Mexico, Hawaii and my own service state of Montana. Between sessions, we reconnected with these fellow service members over meals, hikes, and hangouts. Again, I was struck by the different lives we came from and the differing dreams we have for our futures.

During sessions and in our free time, we shared strategies for connecting with a busy food service director. We gave recipes that gently introduce kids to beets. We tried to one-up each other with stories of the funniest thing a kid has said or done in the garden. We looked out for each other. We shared stories — some failures, some successes.

Despite our differences, it’s incredible that we’re all bonded by our belief that kids should be connected to real food. We insist that kids should know where their food comes from and we dare to hope they’ll learn to love it as much as we do.

CA Hike

FoodCorps service members from different states gather at the top of a hike during a break at the Western Regional Mid-Year Gathering.

Mary Rochelle

Mary Rochelle
Boulder Elementary School’s 21st Century Community Learning Center

With experience working in the food industry, at companies such as Whole Foods Market and Earthbound Farms, Mary quickly learned that issues around food knowledge and access were not an anomaly. She is eager to spend the year learning more about the problems as well as what feasible, on-the-ground solutions look like. In 10 years, she’d like to be using her marketing and PR knowledge at an organization working to provide solutions to what she sees as a fractured food system, contributing effective storytelling to help their causes. Mary loves gardening, and grows her own fruits and vegetables at a community garden.