Citizen Leaders: The Six Founding Members of FoodCorps

FoodCorps is a nationwide network of volunteers combating our country’s childhood obesity epidemic by organizing and recruiting volunteers to develop and coordinate:

  • School nutrition programs that teach kids what healthy food is
  • School gardens that engage kids in learning about the food they eat and how to grow healthy produce
  • Farm to School programs that put locally grown foods in school lunches

The FoodCorps mission and organization emerged from hundreds of hours of conversations with the input of thousands of individuals in the many communities it now serves.

For their effort both in identifying and inviting the many voices that contributed to its formation, and in orchestrating the activities that led to the creation and launch of FoodCorps this year, I applaud the network’s six founding members who each brought their passion and their unique experience to the project. 

The renown American Anthropologist Margaret Meade observed, as a result of her prolonged and profound study of human beings and societies across the globe:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Let me introduce to all of you these dedicated citizens leaders by way of their short bios that appear on the FoodCorps website.

Crissie McMullan pioneered a model for our work when she founded Montana FoodCorps in 2006. An initiative of the Grow Montana Coalition and the National Center for Appropriate Technology, the state-level VISTA program continues to thrive under her leadership today.

Cecily Upton worked to give young people a voice in the food and agriculture conversation as Director of Youth Programs at Slow Food USA. She facilitated school garden projects and initiated the Slow Food on Campus program before joining the staff of FoodCorps.

Debra Eschmeyer brought her background in farming and passion for school food to the National Farm to School Network and the Food and Community Fellowship program. A go-to expert among policymakers and the press, Debra now continues her work at FoodCorps.

Ian Cheney helped start the Yale Sustainable Food Project and co-created the Peabody-winning documentary King Corn and the mobile garden project Truck Farm. He contributed his unique skills to the team through his Brooklyn-based media company, Wicked Delicate.

 Jerusha Klemperer created high-impact communication and action campaigns in her post as Associate Director of National Programs at Slow Food USA. Her strategy and social media work fueled their initiatives Time for Lunch, Dig In and Farmarazzi.

Curt Ellis co-created the documentaries King Corn and Big River and served as a Food and Community Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. In April 2009, he convened the group’s first meeting to discuss a national AmeriCorps initiative related to “Good Food.”