Missouri: Saint Louis University seeks two FoodCorps/AmeriCorps*VISTA Volunteers

16 Dec
Saint Louis University, Department of Nutrition & Dietetics announces a plan to recruit two (2) VISTA members to assist community capacity building in regards to creating a sustainable food system for St. Louis city and county. The City of Saint Louis Department of Health’s report, “Public Health: Understanding our Needs – Update 2007”, indicated that the zip codes of inner city St. Louis served by the Department have been assessed and found to be of high need for developing food security with those living below poverty reported as 13.5% for 63104, 17% for 63118, and 8.2% for 63116. The area is 56%, 57%, and 21% African American in the zip codes of 63104, 63118, and 63116 respectively. While other groups have worked in the 63106 and 63107 zip codes we are beginning to receive calls to assist schools in those areas to help them bring locally grown foods into their school system. Because of our background in gardens, food processing, and sustainable food systems the department receives requests every year to provide assistance with developing a school garden, community garden, education about gardening, food systems development, food waste management, healthy cooking skills and nutrition education.

To meet the goal of creating a sustainable food system in St. Louis we need additional assistance to develop a system of training neighborhood groups to garden, set up school markets, educate neighbors about healthy food choices, teach basic cooking skills, train groups to reclaim food waste through composting and vermiculture that builds garden soil. We are building capacity in the food policy arena by supporting the efforts to create the St. Louis Food Policy Council, establish farm to institution connections and forge partnerships with groups and organizations that work to close the food gap in the St. Louis-Metro area. The community food system includes food production, processing, transportation, distribution and waste management. The activities that the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics is involved with address each of these sectors of the food system as well as participation in the formation of the St. Louis Food Policy Council. The Department will select two (2) AmeriCorp VISTA volunteers to work in two areas that complement each other and both will be engaged in recruiting volunteers and raising funds to sustain the projects upon completion of their tenure:
Volunteer #1 (Farm Connections, Value-Added Products and Food Policy Council) will work to expand current efforts to build a sustainable food system by:
o reconnecting decision makers to the local food system in order to create a healthy food infrastructure for the neighborhoods of St. Louis City and St. Louis County
o enhancing the food value chains that support development of value added products working with farmers to meet consumer demand for locally grown foods
o connecting regional schools with local growers to provide locally grown foods for incorporation into school systems
o training farmers interested in developing value added products from their locally grown foods

o recruiting and training volunteers to assist schools and farmers interested in value added products made from locally grown foods
o co-coordinating with the Healthy Youth Partnership AmeriCorps volunteer to support the activities of the St. Louis Food Policy Council in establishing its bylaws, goals, objectives and plan of action
o supporting efforts to develop food policy that creates an environment of improved access to healthy foods for all citizens of the St. Louis Metro Region.
o promote local food systems through social media, presentations and articles
o assist fellow FoodCorps volunteer as requested by supervisor, Marjorie Sawicki, Assistant Professor.
Volunteer #2 (Neighborhood Engagement, Gardens Education, Composting and Vermiculture) will work to expand current efforts to build a sustainable food system by:
o launching a training program for volunteer SLU student groups, neighborhood and school groups who are interested in reclaiming solid food waste for the purpose of producing rich garden soil through composting and vermiculture
o coordinating the nutrition education that is necessary to improve knowledge regarding the foods raised in the gardens for consumption
o engaging neighborhoods to reconnect to the source of their food by encouraging and teaching families about the rewards of gardening, and preserving the foods that can come from community gardens, backyard gardens, and container gardens
o reclaiming solid food waste for compost and vermiculture to use as fertile garden soil at the SLU teaching garden, as well as community and neighborhood gardens
o monitoring solid food waste reduction for purposes of evaluation
o establishing methods and procedures to be used at Saint Louis University to maximize food waste reduction
o teaming up with SLU partners to advance the efforts to reduce solid food waste, explore alternative energy production from the byproducts of composting and conduct outreach to community partners to share the methods for conservation
o promote local solid food waste reduction through social media, presentations and articles
o assist fellow FoodCorps volunteer as requested by supervisor, Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, Department Chair.
The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of Saint Louis University (SLU) has over 20 years experience in providing nutrition education to inner city children in the public schools. The department established its first school learning garden in the fall of 2002 for “Gardens to Tables”. In 2004, with a USDA Community Food Security grant the Department created the first on-site school teaching garden and garden market at Sigel Elementary School in zip code 63104. Since then we have expanded the teaching gardens to three Maplewood Richmond Heights schools, L’Overture Middle School in St. Louis City, and Lalumier Elementary school in Alorton, Illinois (6 in total). The “Gardens to Tables” teaching garden at Saint Louis University now includes garden areas for children with special needs and provides 2 plots for the SLU medical students in exchange for their participation in community programming associated with the gardens. Additionally, the Department is actively involved with diversion of solid food waste into compost and vermiculture, food processing for the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, and creation of markets for small local growers within 150-mile radius of St. Louis. Faculty and staff of the Department participate actively in community food & health security by serving on the Healthy Youth Partnership Board, St. Louis Food Policy Council, HopeBuild, and the Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council. The St. Louis City Department of Health collaborates closely with the Department. The Department helped to establish the Clayton Farmers Market and now participates in the Maplewood Farmers Market along with two small school markets to improve access to healthy foods.
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Each VISTA member will be provided a full orientation to the University and the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics. The AmeriCorp VISTA volunteers will be provided with office space, computer access, telephone, office supplies and support typically provided to university staff. In addition the volunteers will be integrated into the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics with orientation to departmental policies and procedures, involvement in departmental meetings, and retreats related to departmental operations. A stipend is provided by VISTA for the selected volunteers who agree to work 40 hours weekly as needed on weekdays or weekends. The VISTA volunteer will need to have a personal vehicle for minimal service-related transportation to work in neighborhoods, schools in the St. Louis City and County as requested by the community.
The work of the FoodCorps VISTA volunteers is directed at creating a viable system of support for the community, neighborhoods and schools to embrace sustainable food system practices through volunteer work and fundraising to sustain the efforts to develop a system of food connections and policies that be continued beyond the time of the VISTA FoodCorps volunteers. The fundraising efforts of the VISTA volunteer will need to be established as a yearly event with documentation of the methods used to transition to new leaders in this effort.
Preferred Qualifications
1. An independent, self-motivated individual who is creative, resourceful and collaborative with acommitment to the mission of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.
2. Organized, flexible, good sense of humor and capable of multitasking.
3. Strong interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills – please attach a writing sample.
4. Fundraising/grant writing experience.
5. Proficiency with computer software systems such as Windows Office, blogging software, webpagedevelopment and database programs.
6. Valid drivers license, good driving record, and personal vehicle with insurance. Background checkrequired by Saint Louis University.
7. Bachelor or Masters Degree in Sustainability, Agriculture, Nutrition, Food/Health Policy, PublicAdministration, or related field.
8. Passion for developing the local food system, willing to perform physical work outdoors throughout theyear.
CONTACT: To apply for one of these positions, please send electronically a resume, cover letter, and writing sample related to sustainable agriculture or food systems to: Marjorie Sawicki, Assistant Professor, Dept of Nutrition & Dietetics, Saint Louis University at sawickim@slu.edu or fax to 314-977-8520. Department phone number is 314-977-8523.


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