Meet Our Team: Nesley Rojo

August 12, 2022

 

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Meet one of the newest members of our team, Nesley Rojo, who joined us this summer as the Education Manager for Foodwise Kids & Families, a program for elementary school students and their families, which uses the farmers market as a classroom for empowering the next generation of healthy eaters.

Tell us a bit about you, your background, and your role at Foodwise. 

I graduated from USF with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Legal Studies. During college I worked with youth at various nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area and I decided to continue my work in the classroom. I worked at the 826 Valencia after-school program where I learned so much about supporting students’ growth and development and, most importantly, always making time for fun! However, growing up with two chef parents, food is always in the back of my mind. Now being at Foodwise I feel lucky to be able to combine my love for agriculture and fresh foods with supporting students learning in a nontraditional academic setting.

What does your work at Foodwise look like in action?

As Foodwise Kids & Families Education Manager, my day to day work involves working with our Education Coordinator Damaris to welcome classrooms of elementary students from across the city into the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, where students not only get to try our delicious produce but also learn about the importance of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. As our summer season comes to an end, we are wrapping up our session of Foodwise Kids farmers market field trips with local summer camps and moving into fall planning, which will include in-person farmers market visits as well as school site visits and remote field trips, all including a variety of delicious produce!

What inspires or motivates you about your work? 

I am always motivated by the curiosity of our students. They often enter the market excited but apprehensive of trying new fruits or vegetables. To hear them squeal with joy after trying a delicious fruit for the first time makes my job so rewarding! I did not grow up with access to a farmers market so it’s really special to see kids experience shopping for their own fruits and vegetables and getting to taste the market.

What’s something that you wish people understood better about working with kids and food? 

As much as I love fresh produce, I know for many, fresh fruits and vegetables are not always an option, or even the best option. Though I am happy to introduce students to fresh berries, stone fruit, and tomatoes, I know accessing a farmers market, the shelf life of fresh produce, and cooking for a large family might make it so that eating fresh is not plausible, and I hope we can all understand that is okay. In order to make fresh  fruits and vegetables accessible to families on a budget, Foodwise offers a Market Match program for folks that receive CalFresh (EBT). We are happy to double your CalFresh (EBT) dollars with Market Match, meaning folks are able to get up to $15 for fruits and veggies for free!

What do you do to recharge outside of work? 

I enjoy staying active at pilates or running through Golden Gate Park, though you can always find me at a new coffee shop admiring my newest thrift finds.

Do you have any favorite farmers market tips you can share? 

Can your fruit and vegetables! It is hard not to buy one of everything I see at the market. To reduce waste and extend shelf life I often can my fruits and vegetables. If you have any spare mason jars, place your produce in them and they will stay fresher for longer!

What does “food wise” or “food wisdom” mean to you?

To me, food wisdom is passed down from generation to generation. It is the wisdom the land carries, the wisdom our farmers carry as they care for our food and the wisdom we share with one another while cooking, serving, and eating in community.

 

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