America’s Millennials have made food their cause. First, they’re just into it: 40% of people in their 20s are self-described foodies, according to one survey. Second, as a generation fired up about local and global issues, they care about where food comes from and making sure everyone has access to it.
Twenty-three-year-old Robyn Wardell, left, spent this year working with kids in Flint, Michigan, as part of the debut brigade of FoodCorps, an organization that sends young Americans into schools to promote healthy eating (and a charity Cooking Light supports). Flint, a city largely abandoned after the American automotive industry hit its decline, is reinventing itself with gardens and greenways in areas that once housed bustling factories. “Interestingly, it has left a lot of avenues for community-based food systems,” Wardell says.
During her time in Flint, she helped kids at Freeman Elementary School build a school garden. “The first couple of times we went into the garden, the students would put plastic shopping bags over their shoes so they wouldn’t get them dirty. But we had small victories each time, and it progressed to them being excited to come out and give a helping hand.”
In its first year, FoodCorps has reached more than 50,000 kids and inspired more than 1,800 local volunteers. More than a thousand people applied for the 80 positions available in year two. Cultivating similar ground are organizations like The Edible Schoolyard Project, Live Real, and Planting Justice.