Volunteer of the Month: Avicia Rodgers

June 24, 2022

Foodwise’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. 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 volunteer opportunities here and internships here.

In March 2021, Avicia Rodgers started as a Foodwise volunteer at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and events like MegaBlack SF’s Juneteenth on the Waterfront as a way to get to know her community and to support Foodwise (formerly CUESA), whose mission she believes in. It was also “a way to get out of my neighborhood and interact with people during the pandemic!” She adds, “And now I can never stop because I’m addicted to getting firsthand knowledge on the farming community and how it is impacted by policy and by environmental factors (e.g., crops affected by the weather – you would never know if you’re getting your blueberries from Safeway that the drought is causing crop failure), to spending time with the staff, to the (mostly) reliable sunshine at the Ferry Building, and to seeing so many smiling faces every market day.”

“Avicia joined us during the pandemic, and she’s become a regular and reliable presence at the Info Booth and Veggie Valet,” says Deven Okry, Assistant Market Manager. “She’s easygoing and friendly and helps out when we’re short on staff. I can leave the Info Booth and know that it’s in good hands with her. She’s just as good as Foodwise staff, getting to know our regular shoppers. Thank you!” Meet Avicia.

Foodwise: Where does your interest in food come from?

Avicia: I have just always always believed that food is the most interesting thing – food is everything! Food is care, communication, culture, community… It’s personal, it’s political, and it is truly, deeply fun.

Foodwise: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for Foodwise?

Avicia: A big part of why I moved to San Francisco is the phenomenal outdoor scene, both around the city and within it. Having moved here shortly before the pandemic, I’ve really leaned into that in the last few years. Now that we’re shifting back to a more indoors-friendly world, I feel like I’m getting to know San Francisco in a new way, but I’m also realizing that the outdoors is still the best part of the area to me, whether in the city or out of it. I am very fortunate to have been able to work from home and stay generally low-risk. The little changes build the most for me – now instead of baking and mailing things, I can share them with friends or coworkers; now most of my reading happens on the bus to work instead of in the park; now I can see concerts indoors instead of out (or not at all). The farmers market has remained constant, though, and I am oh-so-grateful for that!

Foodwise: Why are you choosing to volunteer with us at this time?

Avicia: Beyond believing the power of Foodwise’s programming and the importance of healthy, local food systems, it is just always a good time! I so appreciate the opportunity to connect with the food-based community of the Bay and to get to spend time surrounded by colorful foods and colorful folks.

Foodwise: What does the farmers market community mean to you?

Avicia: The community is all about connection – connecting more closely to our food and where it comes from (a connection which we know has virtually countless benefits), connecting with our community members, connecting with new ideas and new experiences. The Foodwise market in particular offers so many valuable touchpoints for connection, with youth programming via Foodwise Teens and Foodwise Kids, cooking demos, and events. I am so grateful for this community, and for the endless opportunities to learn from it.

Foodwise: Any favorite farmers market foods or home meal prep tips you want to share?

Avicia: I am overly passionate about not peeling carrots. Give ‘em a good scrub and they’re ready to go – no need to waste your time or those ribbons of veg!