Volunteer of the Month: Andrea Barton-Elson

January 1, 2015

CUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to cultivate a sustainable food system. Learn more about volunteering and sign up here.

Our next volunteer orientation is on Wednesday, January 28. Learn more and RSVP.

Taking a break from her tech career, Andrea Barton-Elson followed her passion for food and helping out in her community and became a CUESA volunteer more than a year ago. She has helped out in a few volunteer roles—administrative support in the office, photographer, culinary assistant for Saturday cooking demonstrations—but has devoted most of her time to our Foodwise Kids program, a farmers-market-field-trip-plus-cooking-class offered for free to San Francisco public elementary schools.

“Andrea is a core member of the Foodwise Kids team, volunteering with the program since fall 2013,” says Theresa Salcedo, CUESA’s Foodwise Kids Program Coordinator. “She is dedicated and enthusiastic, always bringing energy to the team and to the kids. What I most admire about her is her fearlessness and positivity. Challenges and unexpected situations don’t faze her but motivate her to achieve greatness.” Meet Andrea.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?
Andrea: My parents made wholesome, homemade food and threw a lot of dinner parties. I remember being in charge of dessert for a dinner party when I was maybe nine or ten years old. I made an apricot roll cake. It was a huge disaster, but all the adults ate it anyway and complimented me on it.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?
Andrea: I co-manage the 18th Hour Cafe on Thursday nights at 18 Reasons. I work part time for Peet’s Coffee & Tea as a Digital Project Manager. I also spend a lot of time cooking for my family and friends.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?
Andrea: I love that I can make a difference in how school kids (and their parents) interact with fruits and vegetables. Watching a kid fall in love with kale chips or savor a huge serving of vegetables is really rewarding. And the kids are always full of surprises. I learn a lot from them too.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?
Andrea: Fuyu persimmons are kind of winding down, but they are my favorite fruit of all time. I will buy them from any vendor at the market. I’ve yet to meet a fuyu persimmon I didn’t like.

Photo by Amanda Lynn Photography.