It’s National AmeriCorps Week!
If you’re not familiar with the AmeriCorps organization, what their members do, or why it matters, I would love to spread the word. Knowledge is power, people!
In communities, AmeriCorps service members are working hard across the country to make a powerful impact on critical issues facing our nation every day. Whether it’s improving schools, fighting poverty, rebuilding after disasters, providing health services, preserving the environment, or supporting veterans and military families, AmeriCorps members are getting things done. As a Northeast Iowa resident, please take a look around your area and you’re sure to find AmeriCorps members serving communities.
The Food and Fitness Team relies on multiple people, supporters, and ultimately service members out working in the field (or classroom depending on the season). It’s the AmeriCorps members who are “doing” things in schools and communities, however small or grand, to encourage better choices and encompass our mission that “Together We Grow Healthy Kids”. We do a lot of work behind the scenes, it’s rarely very glamorous, and often unnoticed, but without AmeriCorps presence in communities, the impact of wellness efforts would be slim.
It’s not a typical or traditional “job” by any means, but it’s incredibly fun and rewarding!
“You know you’re a Food & Fitness AmeriCorps service member when…”
- Your daily commute is sometimes the majority of your work hours.
- You act as both a bus driver and the actual vehicle to get students to school.
- You get endless amounts of leg, waist, and butt hugs from tiny students.
- You can make a bike blender smoothie with your eyes closed.
- Wearing vegetable costumes and special outfits only to encourage taste tests doesn’t phase school staff anymore.
- You find dirt on unseen parts of your body and turn around only to find a trail leading back to the school garden.
- Seeds, seeds, SEEDS!
- Stickers, stickers, STICKERS!
- Being referred to as the “(vegetable/sticker/fill in the blank) lady” and hearing echoes down the hall.
- The school staff confesses their fast food and sugary sweet indulgences to you as if you are the Food Police and they are asking for forgiveness.
- You’re always ready for any physical activity, regardless of attire or shoe choice.
- Any and all random leftovers from taste tests or classroom lessons end up in your fridge.
- The school wellness team is used to your strange requests: old palates, empty soup cans, compost, a mailbox, etc.
- You’re ready for any situation involving vomit… please advise: best to have a strong stomach.
- Being an endless supply of wellness ideas… and then needing the energy and gumption to make any one of those happen.
- You have to think about who you might know who has worms you can borrow.
- Songs and dances from nutrition lessons start to infiltrate your dreams. Plus, you perform the same routines to try to impress your friends… unsuccessfully.
- Your clothes are crusted and/or stained from food prep.
- People try to impress you by sharing what vegetables they recently ate.
- Seeing all the smiling faces, new foods, and progress in our school districts related to wellness is all the motivation you need!
As a nation, we serve to get things done, and with the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative, we serve to grow healthy kids. TOGETHER.