FoodCorps Service Member serves M.A. Lynch Elementary
March 3, 2022
Did you know that M.A. Lynch Elementary has a FoodCorps service member on campus this year, helping students learn about nutrition and encouraging healthy food habits?
Adrienne Atkins is a FoodCorps Americorps service member at M.A. Lynch Elementary this school year, providing food and garden education. She goes into classrooms at the kindergarten, fourth and fifth-grade levels to provide hands-on lessons about food, nutrition and gardening. She also encourages a culture of health in the school community, and tries to improve students’ attitudes toward healthy school meals.
She also specializes in vegetable jokes. One example: Why did the vegetable band break up? Because they couldn’t keep the beet!
Adrienne got involved with FoodCorps, which is a national organization partially funded by Americorps, because of her interest in nutrition and nutrition education, and because she loves working with kids. There are 10 FoodCorps service members in Oregon, and Adrienne is the only one in Central Oregon. She’s from Virginia, and previously lived in Colorado, and Central Oregon and M.A. Lynch Elementary have been a welcoming place for her.
“It’s a great community to be a part of,” she said.
The Environmental Center serves as the site host organization for FoodCorps. Denise Rowcroft, the center’s Garden for Every School program manager, said FoodCorps research shows that 10 hours of hands-on lessons and work in the cafeteria and school garden can lead to behavior changes in kids’ eating habits. Adrienne conducted a food habits survey of students at the start of the year, and will do the same at the end of the year to see if her work had an impact.
“The more we can have kids recognizing fresh food, where it comes from and how to grow it, that empowers them to make choices for what goes in their bodies,” Denise said.
If you swing by M.A. Lynch Elementary, you’re likely to see Adrienne on the school’s announcements, or running Snacky Wacky Wednesday, part of the fresh fruit and vegetable program. In fact, Adrienne is so effective at her job that she’s become something of a celebrity around the school. The kindergartners think she might be a movie star from all her Snacky Wacky Wednesday announcement appearances. “It’s so amazing to see how excited they’re getting about it,” she said.
On a recent day, she was in a classroom teaching students how to recognize food marketing tricks through a game of Bingo. Earlier this school year, she led a virtual cooking night using funds from the Environmental Center. She provided packages of ingredients to participating families, then led families and students in making fresh spring rolls, a new food for many of the participants.
“It was great seeing that excitement, to see one of my students sneaking a bite of a carrot, it’s amazing,” Adrienne said. “It’s always good to see them have a positive attitude about a new food, and they’re getting connected by cooking.”
FoodCorps is currently recruiting new service members for the coming school year. Denise said the program is particularly interested in seeing applications from local residents interested in giving back to their community. You can apply here: https://foodcorps.org/apply/ Applications are due by March 31.
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