FoodCorps is a nationwide service program that aims to connect kids to real, healthy food. Service members work in school gardens, classrooms, and cafeterias to achieve this goal through hands-on experience, nutrition education, and providing healthy eating options. The following pages are taken from the journal of Dennis Lackey, this year’s FoodCorps service member in Flint.
Dear Diary: My first week is already here – I can’t believe it! I guess I’m going to learn where all of the gardens are, the schools that I’ll be working at, and the teachers who already have a relationship with FoodCorps from last year. I’m a little intimidated to meet so many new people, but I’m sure they’ll all be friendly and welcoming. And not totally crazy.
Dear Diary: Today, I bent over to politely yet emphatically ask one of my students to stop drumming his pencil against the desk. When I walked back to the front of the class, one of the girls in the class grabbed my arm and whispered “Yo, teacher… crack kills.”
Dear Diary: Tomorrow, Robyn and I are going to spend the day in a high school cafeteria. We’ve been trying to get more local produce into the area schools, and we want to get some perspective into all aspects of this equation. We picked this school because the director of the cafeteria has made some really healthy changes in the past couple of years, but she said it’s still a struggle with the amount she has to depend on revenue from non-school-lunch food. Flint also recently switched to offering free lunch to every student in the district because so many kids qualify for free and reduced lunch, and she said there’s still sort of a stigma for the free meal with some kids. A free, healthy meal… who could say no to that?
Dear Diary: In an afterschool class today, I had kids draw vegetable super-heroes and then give them food powers, which lead to some kids drawing battle scenes. One girl drew Tomato Woman versus Pumpkin Lady, saying that Pumpkin Lady would win. When I asked what her food power was, she replied “She throws
basketballs at people! Duh!”
Dear Diary: I’ve been sort of struggling with some of my classes lately. Most of them are really well behaved, but I think I’m just goofy enough that kids want to walk all over me. I don’t mind a little bit of chaos, and I’m all for treating everyone as an equal, but what could I have done to deserve this kind of attitude?
Dear Diary: I heard today that it takes the same amount of force to bite through a human finger as it does a carrot. Can that possibly be true? Should I tell students that, or is that the worst idea of all time?
Dear Diary: I like to think that these gardens are becoming integrated parts of the schools, and that if I disappeared, they would go on fine without me… so it kind of bugs me when students let down their end of the bargain. I know I shouldn’t get miffed, but it’s hard to remember what a great job this is in the heat of the moment. I’ll have to start some kind of breathing exercise or something.
All of the stories and cartoons listed above are based on real events – the main exaggerations involve making the author look dashingly handsome in cartoon form. Oh, and I can’t vouch for the carrot thing. But I sort of hope it’s true.
Dennis Lackey – Contributing Writer