The Saint Louis University Department of Nutrition and Dietetics helped launch the Clayton Farmers Market in 2000, built a teaching and composting garden in 2002, started a food innovations center processing locally grown foods for Maplewood school district in 2008, and now collaborates with St. Louis Public Schools to increase access to locally grown foods in the school lunch program. In 2010 the Nutrition and Dietetics Department received a Missouri AmeriCorps VISTA award for two VISTA volunteers appointed for a three year project to initiate the SLU FoodCorps.
Since its inception, SLU FoodCorps has been aligned with Mission St. Louis Umbrella Network’s focus area “Healthy Futures: Obesity and Food.” The Healthy Futures: Obesity and Food focuses on helping low-income individuals gain access to food, nutritional services, education, life skills, and community garden programs in order to alleviate food insecurity.
SLU FoodCorps is a community-based effort to reconnect low-income neighborhoods to their food shed for the purpose of improving food security and food justice through food production and distribution in an urban environment. We are dedicated to improving access to healthy foods for individuals and families who are marginalized by poverty and place. We train and build capacity through experiential learning to grow, harvest, prepare, preserve, and distribute food and redirect food waste to compost. Using this approach we not only nourish the people and the land, but also build resilience and hope for a healthier future.
SLU FoodCorps determines its focus areas and projects based on the City of St. Louis Department of Health’s “Understanding our Needs: Update 2012” report, the USDA Food Access Research Atlas, and a report generated by Mission St. Louis when forming the Healthy Futures: Obesity and Food” focus area.
SLU FoodCorps projects include:
- Mapping Food Access Points in St. Louis City
- Garden Education, including trainings and workshops
- Community garden beds, Culinary Camp, Dietetic Interns, Orchard training
- SLU Farm Stand
Americorps Service Network
SLU FoodCorps is a proud member of the AmeriCorps Service Network. This means that we are a grantee of AmeriCorps–receiving a portion of our funding from them–and a member of a successful service network that includes Habitat for Humanity, City Year, and Teach for America. Our VISTAs work to strengthen SLU FoodCorps and build capacity so the organization can continue to serve the needs of the community once their support has ended. Each VISTA member makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. In return for their service, AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a modest living allowance and health benefits during their service, and have the option of receiving a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or post-service stipend after completing their service. To read more about AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), visit nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps.
Mission: St. Louis serves as an umbrella agency with the Corporation for National and Community Service. Mission: St. Louis provides technical assistance to SLU FoodCorps and several other St. Louis organizations including Earth Dance Farms, the International Institute, and More than Carpentry Christian Ministries.