Curt Ellis is on a Mission to Connect Kids to Healthy Food

We wrote a blog earlier this month about how the sugar industry paid off scientists to downplay the connection between sugar and heart disease. We talked to Curt Ellis, the filmmaker of the documentary King Corn, which is about the subsidized crop that fuels our fast-food nation.

curt ellis on healthy eating

“My goal is for every child in America to know what healthy food is, care about where it comes from and eat it every single day,” Curt Ellis said.

In a McDonald’s meal, everything on the plate is corn from the corn-fed beef to the corn-syrup-sweetened soda to the french fries fried in corn oil. The documentary followed him and his friend on a mission to grow an acre of corn in rural Iowa.

Ellis continued his dedication to nutrition and healthy eating by founding the nonprofit Food Corps in 2011. They reach 150,000 children a year with their programming.

“Food Corps is a national nonprofit that connects kids to healthy food in school,” Ellis said. “Our work focuses on teaching kids what healthy food is through hands on lessons.”

The nonprofit will partner with cafeterias, and works with teachers, principals, and food service workers to make a school-wide culture of health. The purpose of the work they do is to make sure that everything kids see and hear each day reinforces the messages of healthy food rather than unhealthy food.

Ellis agrees that there’s no doubt that the current food system is the way it is because large-scale corporations profit from a food system that relies heavily on processed foods, refined sugar, and fat. He said that sometimes companies will pursue them by all means possible, while skirting the law or at least not having the public’s health at heart.

Ellis said that the people who have suffered the most from this fast-food nation that we have in America is children, and especially those growing up in low-income households and children of color.

One in three of our nation’s children are on track to develop diabetes in their lifetime. For kids of color, it’s one in two. (

“We all have a shared responsibility for the food system,” Ellis said. Whether it be individuals who shop with little regard for the health of their family or the big corporations that profit from our unhealthy eating habits, we have shared responsibility, he says. No one really thinks that sugar is good for you. If it is true that the sugar industry intentionally misled people, it is a terrible offense. However, Ellis says that we share responsibility.

“I don’t think you can ever find a single scapegoat that is deserving of the lion’s share of the blame,” he said. Buyers and sellers both created a food system that works in this way.

The topic of healthy eating and nutrition interested him because food is one of the most powerful drivers of how our bodies function. “On a societal level, it is hugely important,” Ellis said. “The kids who are going to be most impacted already face so many systemic barriers to their success like poverty and racism.”

Although he is young, Ellis has lofty goals. “My goal is for every child in America to know what healthy food is, care about where it comes from and eat it every single day,” he said. “It’s a long term project. I don’t expect it to be finished in my lifetime, but wouldn’t it be great if it was?”


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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