Intern Spotlight: Graciela Ruiz and Abbi Sanders
May 26, 2022
Foodwise relies on volunteers and interns to help with education programs, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to grow thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn more about internships here and volunteer opportunities here. You can also sign up for our next volunteer orientation on June 4, 2022, here.
As May comes to a close, we thank Foodwise Kids intern Graciela Ruiz and Administrative intern Abbi Sanders for supporting a busy spring at Foodwise, including serving more than 1,000 elementary school students from San Francisco Unified School District with our free farmers market field trip program.
A UC Berkeley graduate with a food systems minor, Graciela devoted her time to support Foodwise Kids, who visited our weekday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to learn about and taste food from the farmers and food producers. Westmont College junior Abbi lent a hand with Foodwise Kids and supported our Foodwise Teens program, too. Behind the scenes, she assisted in the Foodwise rebrand, updating seller signs and supporting the rollout celebrations this spring.
“Abbi and Graciela were wonderful additions to our team this semester and instrumental in the implementation of our program.” says Director of Education Tiffany Chung. “They were so kind with the students and ensured that students always left feeling like mini-experts of the market. They were always super adaptive to the changing needs of the program and were quick to pick up on the virtual field trips when classes were cancelled due to COVID and jumped right into our follow-up cooking classes, all with enthusiasm and a positive attitude that really helped to uplift the team. We feel really lucky that they were able to join us this semester.”
Foodwise Teens Manager amy huynh adds, “Abbi was such a star of a support to Foodwise Teens! She was an immense help in holding together the administrative background work, often unseen labor that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. When we did get to work with Abbi, her enthusiasm was contagious to the students and made others feel so comfortable. Thank you Abbi for sharing your presence and hard work with us this past semester.”
Meet Graciela and Abbi.
Foodwise: Where does your food interest come from?
Graciela: It definitely comes from my family. When I was a child, my parents, aunts, and uncles tried their best to expose my brother and me to the different styles of cuisines available! My interest for food also peaked when I began taking courses for my food system minor and I began to learn more about industrial food production and the effects it has on societies.
Abbi: Food is a primal and foundational part of our existence, and it can bring so much joy and fellowship towards communities. I love the infinite possibilities that lie within food in terms of flavors, ways to cook it, and how it can bring people together.
Foodwise: What do you do when you aren’t interning for Foodwise? And how is the pandemic impacting you?
Graciela: When I’m not interning for Foodwise, I’m usually fulfilling my duties as a college student. I just graduated UC Berkeley this May! I’m also an artistic director for the dance group Ballet Folklórico Reflejos de Mexico! I love dancing, and I find it’s really effective for relieving stress.
Abbi: I have been exploring San Francisco as much as I can. I am here on a study abroad program with my college, so that has motivated me to make the most of my time here. The pandemic overall has made me more aware of public health issues, but on the day-to-day its only impact on me is wearing a mask when appropriate.
Foodwise: Why are you choosing to intern with us at this time?
Graciela: I really wanted to gain more experience in the food system realm and find an opportunity that could tie in some of my career interests (food system & education). When I saw the posting for the Foodwise Kids internship, I was really excited because it showed how both of these interests can be woven together! I also do enjoy working with youth, so seeing that I would be working regularly with elementary school classes motivated me even more to apply.
Abbi: I wanted to experience a professional office setting while still working on something that interested me, this internship has done exactly that. I was ready for more familiarity with what a 9 to 5 job would look like, and I have had the privilege of being able to help San Francisco communities through a desk job.
Foodwise: What does Foodwise mean to you?
Graciela: Foodwise means consistently learning about the food you are consuming, including information on how the food item is grown, harvested, brought to market, and its nutritional values.
Abbi: Foodwise means the world to me. It was inspiring to be around so many hard-working adults that are working towards a cause that supports a sustainable future for farmers, the earth, and communities with limited access to fresh, local food.
Foodwise: Any favorite farmers market foods or home meal prep tips you want to share?
Graciela: I have developed a love and passion for pomelos during my time at Foodwise. I had never tasted them before interning here! I can’t wait till they’re back in season again!
Abbi: The citrus from Rojas Family Farms is out of this world! I have learned to taste the difference between fresh and local fruit and vegetables, and I can’t go back.