Food Corps – Nutrition and Community Development
FoodCorps is an American nonprofit organization whose purpose is to assist low-income communities in purchasing food. It provides free and convenient access to quality food from many different food suppliers, and its member companies have signed contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deliver approved food to eligible locations. This food can be purchased directly from a supplier or purchased through a third-party agent who represents the food company. Food produced by FoodCorps suppliers must meet high quality standards set by the Department of Agriculture.
The FoodCorps program was established to strengthen the U.S. food supply by linking low-income families with responsible food manufacturers. Through the program, consumers can buy food from a food supplier that sells it at a reduced cost, helping to ensure that families do not become hungry. It is designed to help bridge the gap between where a family comes from and where they go to get food. By purchasing food from responsible food suppliers, a family can improve their food choices, improve their health and reduce their dependence on government programs such as the federal food stamps program. By investing in food, a family can become more self-sufficient.
To participate in the FoodCorps program, food providers fill out an application, providing personal information such as name, address, Social Security number and employer. Once accepted into the program, food providers sign an agreement that allows them to sell approved food supplies, to sell in bulk, receive credit for food purchases, and be reimbursed for food costs. A food provider’s business must also be registered with the USDA, which makes them eligible to receive financial assistance and marketing tools such as direct mail, Internet marketing and referrals from the program.
Although FoodCorps has many redeeming qualities, some see it as a bureaucracy and believe that the government should regulate its own food supply. Others see FoodCorps as a valuable resource for food banks and other needy organizations that would benefit from receiving food donations. Those who live in the rural areas where FoodCorps projects are based feel that the program is a great asset, but the distribution of food does need to be better controlled. One issue is that volunteer volunteers who work in the fields may return to their rural area to collect food because it is hard to find food in urban areas. There is a need for volunteers to be able to deliver supplies quickly, so that food does not sit around for weeks.
There is a growing concern among volunteers that they are being taken advantage of by the food providers and by the companies that sell the food products. Many of the food providers and manufacturers bill FoodCorps as a moneymaking opportunity. They use the name of Food Corps as a way to attract more participants. The fact is that the average earning individual will make no more than $15 per hour, even though some volunteers have received six-figure salaries. By participating in Food Corps, individuals do not contribute to the pockets of these large food processors but do contribute to the overall well-being of hungry children.
It is important for volunteers to understand what the food distribution methods are in each area. Volunteers should be trained on how to handle the food and the distribution methods themselves. Training is provided after volunteers complete a two-week training session that includes lectures, hands-on practice with food products, and interaction with representatives from the community. There are also several workshops held at local schools and churches that teach volunteers how to plan an effective food delivery program. All Food Corps volunteers are expected to follow the food distribution instructions very carefully. Individuals who volunteer with Food Corps should also have good hygiene standards and proper documentation.