FoodCorps & Thrive Market: Helping Kids Access Food Education & Nourishing School Meals

Last Update: April 30, 2024

Food insecurity and lack of access is seldom visible quite as clearly as it is in public schools. While some students bring nourishing, nutritious lunches from home, many students — particularly those in low-income areas — face disproportionate barriers when it comes to accessing healthy foods.

FoodCorps understands that children need nutritious food in order to reach their full potential academically, mentally, and physically. The organization partners with schools and communities across the country to provide nourishing school meals, access to food education, and culturally affirming experiences with food to students who need it most. FoodCorps is powered by a network of AmeriCorps members to reach as many children as possible, helping to create a better food future for our youth. 

FoodCorps: Food Education, Outreach, and Policy Change 

During a FoodCorps lesson, kids might see an agenda reading: “Today we will water our radish and carrot plants,” or “Today we will make a massaged kale salad.”  The organization believes that while it is important to provide children with access to nourishing foods, it’s equally important to teach them to grow, prepare, and enjoy those foods. 

FoodCorps service members help to support school districts’ nutrition goals, source local food, survey students on their meal preferences, and promote newly added cafeteria foods. They collaborate with schools to host seasonal events like harvest and food festivals, and in the past year, FoodCorps launched its first family engagement programming in four states to increase outreach from schools into homes.

On a larger scale, FoodCorps also advocates for policy change to increase food access in public schools. In 2023, lawmakers made free school meals permanently available for all students in eight states. FoodCorps played a major role in this policy change in New Mexico, where the organization supported a day of advocacy for students and their families at the state legislature. FoodCorps and its alumni have also supported similar measures in Washington, D.C., Michigan, and Connecticut. 

Here’s a look at the work FoodCorps accomplished across the country in the 2022-2023 school year: 

  • 28,266 hands-on food education lessons 
  • 290 gardens supported
  • 279 foods added to cafeteria menus 
  • 13,100 food tastings (which help to introduce kids to nourishing food)
  • 588 farm-to-school outreach efforts
  • 521 family engagement activities 

Joining Forces for Food Justice 

Since 2019, we’ve partnered with FoodCorps to help further their mission, which aligns so closely with our own. We started by donating healthy snacks and groceries to the organization’s generous educators. Since then, we’ve greatly expanded our support by providing funding (collected through member donations to our Food Equality Now campaign) to help enable children to access these hands-on programs and educational opportunities. 

Here’s a look back at our work together over the years:  

  • We began partnering with FoodCorps by supporting their work in Mississippi, a state with some of the highest hunger rates in the country.  
  • Next, we started supporting FoodCorps’ programming in Arkansas, a state where in 2019, more than 20% of children experienced hunger.
  • In 2023, we moved to Newark, New Jersey, an area where 1 in 10 children face food insecurity each day. We funded FoodCorps’ work for 2,000 children in New Jersey, helping to expand access to nutritious food in school through education, healthy meals, and advocacy. 

Thrive Market and FoodCorps’ 2024 Partnership Updates

This year marks our fifth year partnering with FoodCorps, and together, our impact continues to grow. Here’s what our partnership with FoodCorps looks like today:

  • Since 2021, Thrive Market’s giving has directly supported over 25,000 FoodCorps students by providing hands-on food education and increased access to nourishing school meals. 
  • This year, we’re extending our support to an additional 1,000 children throughout the U.S.

More about FoodCorps: 

Fueling Healthy Minds: Go Back to School with FoodCorps and Thrive Market

How FoodCorps is Fighting for Food Justice in Mississippi

How This FoodCorps Educator is Planting Seeds for a Better Food Future

How Thrive Market and FoodCorps are Advocating for a Healthier Back-to-School Season

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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