FoodCorps Program Guide

The FoodCorps Program Guide is a set of resources for FoodCorps service members, designed to support effective FoodCorps programming in schools. Service members use this guide alongside FoodCorps’ in-person trainings. In this guide, you will find the following:

  • Resources for planning and evaluating your service
  • Tips for getting to know your school community
  • Teaching approaches and considerations
  • Best practices in classroom management
  • Tips for cooking with students
  • Tips for building and maintaining school gardens
  • Activities to engage students in the cafeteria
  • Best practices for safety during hands-on activities

This guide also includes key FoodCorps tools, some of which are required during service:

  • FoodCorps Menu & Action Plan
  • Healthy School Progress Report
  • School & Community Guide
  • Observation & Coaching Tool

The FoodCorps community, including service members, alumni, staff, partners, and resource experts, has made this resource possible. We truly appreciate the input, guidance, and feedback from our network, which ensures we provide high quality, relevant resources for connecting kids to healthy food in school. We would like to thank the following contributors: Whitney Cohen from Life Lab; Pam Koch from the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University; Rachel Willis from Elevating Equity; and the FoodCorps Programs team.

We also want to express deep gratitude to all our funding partners for supporting our mission, supporting hands-on education, and helping us create these teaching materials. We want to give special thanks to the Walmart Foundation for supporting the development of the FoodCorps Healthy School Toolkit.

Download the full Program Guide

  • Introduction to FoodCorps

    Introduction to FoodCorps

    • What Is FoodCorps?
    • Why Schools?
    • What Is a Healthy School Food Environment?
    • What Is Staying Power?
    • FoodCorps’ Three Areas of Service
    • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
    • Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

    Core Competencies

    • Core Competencies in Action
    • Hands-On Learning Competencies
    • Healthy School Meals Competencies
    • Schoolwide Culture of Health Competencies

    Planning and Evaluating Your Service

    • Service Timeline
    • FoodCorps Menu & Action Plan
    • Sample School Schedule
    • The Toolshed
    • Key Tools (Found in Appendix)
    • Healthy School Progress Report
    • School & Community Guide
    • Observation & Coaching Tool
    • Know Your State & District Policies Worksheet
    • 2019–20 Service Timeline
    • Menu & Action Plan (MAP)
    • Service Member Worksheet
    • Sample Service Member Schedule
  • Getting to Know Your Community

    Getting to Know Your Community

    • Asset-Based Community Development Strategies
    • Community Demographics and Access
    • Community History
    • Local Grocery and Agricultural Landscape
    • Communication 


    • Meeting Planning Tips
    • Meeting Agenda Tips
    • Meeting Facilitation Tips

    Key Relationships in FoodCorps Service

    • Relationship with the Principal
    • Relationships with Cafeteria Staff
    • Relationships with Teachers 

    Tips for Celebrating and Sharing Success

    • Involve Students 
    • Celebrate the Small Things
    • Share Your Story 
  • Teaching Hands-On Lessons

    Teaching Hands-On Lessons

    • FoodCorps Lessons
    • Lesson Structure 
    • FoodCorps Lesson Structure 
    • Essential Questions
    • School Curriculum and Academic Connections
    • Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards
    • The 5 Es: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate
    • 5 Es Cheat Sheet

    Customizing Lessons to Climate, Culture, and Students’ Needs

    • Adapting FoodCorps Lessons
    • Cultural Relevance
    • Seasonal Relevance 

    Preparing to Teach

    • Know Your Lessons
    • Gather Your Materials
    • Use Shortcuts for Materials
    • Have a Plan B Do Your Food Prep .
    • Organize Your Cleanup
    • Take a Breath 


    • Co-Teaching Effectively

    Tips for Improving Your Teaching Practice

    Safety with Students

    • Tips for Keeping Students Safe
  • Learning Models to Inform Hands-on Education

    Learning Models to Inform Hands-on Education

    Culturally Responsive Teaching

    • What Is Culturally Responsive Teaching?
    • What Are the Components of Culturally Responsive Teaching?
    • Why Is Culturally Responsive Teaching Important for FoodCorps Service Members?
    • Culturally Responsive Teaching and FoodCorps Lessons
    • How Can I Create a Culturally Responsive Teaching Environment? 

    Social and Emotional Learning

    • What Is Social and Emotional Learning? 
    • What Skills Do Socially and Emotionally Competent Children and Youth Have?
    • Why Is Social and Emotional Learning Important for FoodCorps Service Members?
    • What Teaching Strategies Support Social and Emotional Learning?

    Place-Based Education

    • What Is Place-Based Education?
    • 5 Why Is Place-Based Education Important for FoodCorps Service Members?
    • What Are the Principles of Place-Based Education?
  • Meeting the Needs of All Learners

    Meeting the Needs of All Learners

    • Teaching with Multiple Modalities
    • Informing Your Teaching Practice with Child Development Characteristics
    • Working with Students with Disabilities 

    Reframing Classroom Management

    • Respond to the Child, Not the Behavior
    • Functions and Explanations of Student Behavior
    • Managing Student Behavior: The 4 Ps
    • Six Ways to Redirect Classroom Disruption
    • Setting the Tone to Make FoodCorps Time Special
    • Setting the Tone: Checklist
    • Setting the Tone When You First Meet a New Class
    • Fun Name Games
    • Icebreakers 

    Developing Group Agreements

    Setting the Tone with Every Lesson

    • Circling up for Each Lesson Opening
    • Getting Students’ Attention 

    Structuring Student Participation in Discussions

    • Methods for Calling on Students Randomly
    • Transition Strategies
    • Back Pocket Activities: What to Do If You Finish Early
    • Lesson Closing and Reflection 
  • Building and Maintaining School Gardens

    Building and Maintaining School Gardens

    • School Gardens: Getting Started
    • Building a Garden Team
    • Setting Your Garden Goals
    • Choosing a Site for a New Garden
    • Designing a School Garden
    • Involving Students and Community
    • Garden Components
    • Container Gardens
    • Outdoor Safety
    • General Garden Safety
    • Gardening Tool Safety
    • Harvesting Safety
    • Sourcing Equipment and Supplies

    Keeping the Garden Growing

    • Growing and Maintaining the Garden with Students
    • Planting with Students
    • Sustaining Community Engagement in the Garden
    • Summer Garden Maintenance

    Working and Learning in the Garden with Students

    • Providing for Students’ Physical Comfort 
  • Cooking With Students

    Cooking with Students

    • Cooking Safety
    • Cooking With Students Basics
    • Sourcing Food
    • Considering Students’ Access to Food
    • Selecting Recipes
  • Activities to Engage Students in the Cafeteria

    Activities to Engage Students in the Cafeteria

    • Overview
    • Regular Service Member Cafeteria/Mealtime Presence
    • Activity Ideas

    Taste Test Basics

    • Key Questions to Consider
    • Strategies for Greatest Impact
    • FoodCorps Lessons with Cooking and Tasting Opportunities
    • Local Food and Procurement Resources
  • Glossary


    • Teaching Terms
    • Cafeteria Terms
    • School Terms
    • Government Programs and Legislative Terms
  • References

  • Appendix