Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

California FoodCorps

FoodCorps California, managed by Co-Host Sites Life Lab and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, has selected ten organizations to place twelve service corps members across the state in 2013-2014. 

Visit the California FoodCorps Page.

The following organizations, which include a mix of school districts, non-profit, and university organizations, will be included in the AmeriCorps Education Award application to bring FoodCorps to California.

Ventura Unified School District – 1 service member (Ventura)
Garden School Foundation – 1 service member (Los Angeles)
Center for Nutrition and Activity – 1 service member (Chico)
Sierra Harvest – 1 service member (Grass Valley)
North Coast Opportunities – 1 service member (Ukiah)
Oakland Unified School District – 2 service members (Oakland)
San Diego Unified School District – 1 service member (San Diego)
UC Cooperative Extension Central Sierra -1 service member (San Andreas)
Life Lab – 2 service members (Santa Cruz) second service member shared between CAFF and Life Lab programming.
Community Alliance with Family Farmers – 1 service member (Sonoma)

Interested in being a California Service Site and hosting a service member? Fill out this form so that we can email when we are opening applications for organizations to apply as California Service Sites.

Related Press

CA FoodCorps State Training at the Life Lab Garden Classroom

Santa Cruz will soon be hub of a California food education initiative – Santa Cruz Sentinel 1/26/13

FoodCorps' California service sites announced – LA Times 1/31/13


View CA Food Corps Service Sites in a full screen map

2013 Service Site Selection Process NOTE This is outdated content for archival purposes. If funding becomes available to expand we will contact interested sites. Note your interest in being a CA Service Site on this form
Service Sites Explained
Service Member Benefits
Service Site Selection Criteria
Service Site Selection Timeline
Application Information Conference Call (not required for applying)
Service Site Application Link 

Clearly there is high demand for the program – we have received requests for over 90 service members for our application to FoodCorps! At this point FoodCorps can support somewhere between 12 – 20 members in the inaugural year in California, and as a result we have to use a more rigorous process to choose potential Service Sites. The exact number of FoodCorps members we are allotted in California depends on the funding distribution from AmeriCorps at the national and state levels. CAFF, Life Lab, and FoodCorps will be submitting grant proposals for the AmeriCorps funding, and we need to select sites as part of our proposal. We cannot guarantee that all Service Sites selected as partners in the grant to AmeriCorps will be funded, but we will try our best to accommodate those service sites selected. Final decisions will be made in June 2013.
Service Sites
FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy. We do that by placing motivated leaders in limited-resource communities for a year of public service. Working under the direction of local partner Service Sites, we implement a three-ingredient recipe for healthy kids. FoodCorps service members:

·      Teach kids about what healthy food is and where it comes from

·      Build and tend school gardens

·      Bring high-quality local food into public school cafeterias

Service Sites are crucial to supporting the FoodCorps’ members and will become members of a strong California network of Farm to School and school gardens. While the Service Sites will be able to extend their reach through FoodCorps, it is important to know that it is a commitment to support the FoodCorps service members’ development and to contribute to meeting the mission of FoodCorps: Through the hands and minds of emerging leaders, FoodCorps strives to give all youth an enduring relationship with healthy food.
Service Sites, grassroots nonprofits, public schools or districts, and community-based organizations chosen by the co-Host Site must commit to:

  • Direct the work of FoodCorps service members in a specific community or school
  • Collaborate with the Host Site on recruiting and selecting service members
  • Share responsibility for evaluation and accountability

Service Sites must be able to place FoodCorps members in positions where they can address the following service pillars:
Knowledge: Service members teach children about food and nutrition in the classroom by developing and teaching lesson plans to grades ranging from kindergarten through high school, integrating activities into subjects such as math, science and history, working with teachers and school administrators to increase food and nutrition education in curricula, and more.
Engagement: Service members grow healthy food with students, teachers, and community members in school and community gardens, dynamic educational settings where kids can get their hands dirty and experience what they’re learning first-hand. While some service members expand/maintain already-existing school gardens, greenhouses and hoop houses, others work to establish new gardens. Members may assist or lead the planning process: meetings with school administrators and teachers, fundraising, garden design, etc. Service members develop garden sustainability plans and recruit community volunteers to ensure that the projects they start last into the future.
Access: Service members change what's for lunch by sourcing food from local farms for cafeterias, promoting local foods through cafeteria taste tests, working with school food directors and staff to integrate healthier foods into breakfast, lunch and snack programs, and more.
FoodCorps Service Member Benefits include:

  • A $15,000 living allowance
  • $5,550 AmeriCorps Segal Education Award: Upon successful competition of a 1,700 hour term of service, service members will receive this monetary award which can be used to pay for education at qualified institutions of higher education, educational training, and to re-pay qualified student loans.
  • Health insurance: FoodCorps will provide basic health, vision and dental coverage.
  • SNAP eligibility (dependent on total income)
  • Student loan forbearance (if eligible)
  • Partial childcare reimbursements (if eligible)

To find out more information about the FoodCorps program, please visit

Criteria for Service Sites:
Due to extremely high demand for FoodCorps members in California, we have chosen specific criteria to ensure the best Service Sites for FoodCorps members.

  • FoodCorps members must work on all 3 FoodCorps pillars: local food procurement, garden based education, and nutrition education
  • No more than 3 members per service site
  • FoodCorps members must work in a school setting or closely with a school
  • FoodCorps members must be able to deliver at least 10 hours of instruction per student per year
  • Ability to commit $5000 for the FoodCorps service member
  • Stable organizational finances
  • Diverse geographic distribution of Service Sites

For frequently asked questions for Service Sites, please visit:

California Service Site Selection Timeline
Selection Site Conference Call: December 18, 2012
Selection Site Applications Due: January 4, 2013
Selection Site Notification: By January 21, 2013
AmeriCorps Education Award Grant Due: February 6, 2013
Notification of Americorps Education Award Grant: June 2013
Service Site Confirmation: June 2013
FoodCorps Member Selection Process: May – July 2013
FoodCorps Members Term at Service Sites: August 2013 – Aug 2014

For More Information:
If you’d like to learn more or ask questions about the process, please join a conference call on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:30am PST. This is an informational call only and is not required to apply.
Conference Call Line: (218) 339-4300
Passcode: 714537#

To Apply:
Fill out the application at by January 4, 2013.

Preview and download a read only version of the application here


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Teaching a Growing Classroom Workshop at @OakSpringGardenFoundation in collaboration with I feel like I’ve fallen into a small French village. This is the former estate of Paul and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in Virginia. Mrs. Mellon was an avid horticulturalist who designed the White House Rose Garden! I am staying in the room where Jackie Kennedy stayed when she visited here!! Sharing a weekend in this space with teachers who love kids and gardens is a truly unforgettable experience. ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program at their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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What happens when Whole Kids Foundation partners with you to bring 50+ leaders from School Garden Support Organizations from across the country together to get to talk shop, inspire each other, problem-solve around shared challenges, and eat amazing food prepared and served by happy 5th graders? MAGIC. That's what happens. #sgso2018 ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.


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Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
#beapartofit, #changinglives, #optoutside, #gardenbasededucation, #happynewyear
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Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom