AmeriCorps Makes Nutrition Education Accessible
This AmeriCorps Week, United Way’s Fuel Your Future team is featuring one of our current direct service members, Jazmyne Story (in the photo, behind the carrot!). Though Washington Service Corps’ Healthy Futures initiative, the 20 AmeriCorps members on Jazmyne’s team work across King County to break down barriers of access to good food in high-needs schools and help students build the foundation for a lifetime of healthy food choices through nutrition education.
Jazmyne grew up in the Renton school district and currently serves in Seattle Public Schools at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary school. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Culinary Arts, the chance to give back while exploring her passion for nutrition propelled towards her current position. “I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Fuel Your Future because of my interest in food and in working with the youth population. I wanted my next steps to be in an area of interest that would challenge and expand me professionally in the field of nutrition,” she says.
For Jazmyne, the decision to serve locally was personal: “As a kid growing up in South King County, I have experienced the struggles of being an overweight youth at risk of a chronic disease. As I furthered my education in nutrition, I sometimes wonder where this information was when I was younger. While serving as an AmeriCorps member in the Fuel Your Future program I am determined to be that individual who provides that vital information I missed directly to the students at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary.
“Through my work at MLK,” she continues, “I have had the opportunity to establish and implement an after-school program designed to teach kids about different ingredients and how to cook with them. I would say Food Club at MLK has been the most impactful program we have started at the school. Students participating in food club have had the chance to connect food with nutrition and, most importantly, through foods they enjoy eating.”
Together with her AmeriCorps partner, Paul, Jazmyne has found ways to make healthy food choices feel approachable and fun during food club lessons. She describes a recent lesson: “We made tomato sauce from scratch while introducing spices and herbs to students. Then we gave the student the tools and direction to apply that tomato sauce to some of their favorite dishes like pizza and spaghetti with zucchini noodles.”
Since beginning their service team with Fuel Your Future at their school, Jazmyne and Paul have built lasting relationships with the kids they serve. In addition to doubling the number of young people excited about healthy food through their food club, they have brought MyPlate-based nutrition education to classrooms, hosted community events for students and families, and laid the foundation for a successful Breakfast After the Bell model at their school. These wrap-around efforts help ensure that every kid at the school has what they need to make smart food choices and start their day ready to focus, grow and learn.
The work that I am doing at MLK is relevant,” Jazmyne shares, “it is important and can benefit and inspire the next group of young individuals. I am working to shine the light on the importance of eating healthy and how simple it can be to create healthy balanced meals. Starting with educating kids, I hope they will carry what they are learning home and with them as they continue to grow.”
Fuel Your Future is hiring for its summer AmeriCorps Team! If you or someone you know is interested in serving kids their community in a role like Jazmyne’s, check out our open position for June and beyond.