Abi Phillips, Class of ’11, at the White House

Abi Phillips and students

We just heard from Abi Phillips, class of 2011. She’s a foodcorps service member with the Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity, Inc. in Jackson, Mississippi. FoodCorps is a national service nonprofit focused on reversing the rate of childhood obesity by providing access to healthier food, teaching students and cafeteria workers about the importance of healthy eating and using gardens as experience-based educational tools. Abi graduated from the UPS CSOC department with a minor in EPDM and plans to continue her work in Jackson as the state FoodCorps fellow beginning in August. Here’s a brief paragraph about her visit to the White House:

After a weekend surrounded with influential food-world figures like the USDA deputy secretary, Kathleen Merrigan, the cofounder of Good Food Jobs, Dorothy Neagle, executive director of the National Farm to School Network, Anupama Joshi and school food reformer/author of Lunch Money, Kate Adamick the Foodcorps service members and national staff headed to the white house. We spent the bulk of Monday addressing congress with educational visits, sharing stories with individual members about the green smoothies now served in a few Iowa schools, the local student remedies for fire ants in Mississippi school gardens (like corn grits and mad stomping) and our ideas about how to create state-by-state school food systems that bolster local farmers, provide students with real nourishment and reduce waste. All in hope that we would meet Mrs. Obama, we gathered around Sam Cass, the family chef, who explained that unfortunately no member of the presidential family would be joining us, BUT the NEXT best was hoping to speak with us. Enter Alice Waters, pioneer of the current US schoolfood movement, owner of Chez Panisse one of the original restaurants to celebrate local food production and executive director of the Edible Schoolyard Foundation. Waters, a very sweet powerhouse of a woman, gushed with support and encouragement, feeding the FoodCorps ego in a very healthy way. Mr. Cass (who by the way said he would be a fig from a tree in the white house garden if he were a fruit or vegetable himself) showed us around the new white house garden where we talked to the white house bee keeper, learned about the president’s home brew (made from white house honey), talked to the white house chef and learned about the first lady’s present affinity for spinach and sweet potatoes AND saw the beans and collards that grew from heirloom seeds originally in Thomas Jefferson’s garden. It was a tremendously productive weekend in DC that will result in an even more productive foodcorps team next year and has me feeling very inspired about even more programs I can set up now for service members in Mississippi to implement within their schools this August.

Thanks Abi. Keep in touch.

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