Volunteer of the Month: Kira Åkerström

February 22, 2017

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.

“Thank you, farmers!” echoes in the south arcade of the Ferry Building on Tuesdays and Thursdays of the school year. CUESA’s Foodwise Kids farmers market field trip and cooking class for 2,500 local elementary school students each year culminates with this cheer of gratitude. Trained interns and volunteers lead the students, teachers, and parent chaperones through the market to shop for local produce and bring them back to the CUESA kitchen to create a unique seasonal salad.

Hailing from Finland and returning to San Francisco with her husband, Kira Åkerström has been a regular volunteer with Foodwise Kids since October 2015. She was excited to work with kids for the first time and enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for food to support the students. She since has become a veteran volunteer and invaluable member of the team.

“Kira has been a delightful weekly part of our Foodwise Kids team,” says Tessa Kappe, CUESA’s Education Programs Coordinator. “She is consistently cheerful, kind, and bright with both students and her fellow volunteers. She is a tremendous help in the kitchen, and a model leader who has shared her knowledge in training numerous volunteers new to Foodwise Kids. I always enjoy watching her innate talents for teaching and love of food and cooking shine through with every child she meets. We are very grateful for all of her contributions, and I’ve even learned a few things in Finnish!” Meet Kira.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Kira: I’m lucky that I come from a family where good food has always been available and an important thing. My interest in cooking grew slowly, watching my dad, a former chef and restauranteur, and my mother, a self-taught kitchen wizard, cook every day at home. Good, healthy food has always been available, which I’m very grateful for. But my interest in cooking and hunger to learn more about food, especially the food system and sustainability, really started to blossom when I moved away from home. I started to experiment with recipes and began to pay even more attention to sustainability and the health aspect of food. I started a food blog, and that really motivated me to grow my food knowledge.

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

Kira: In addition to CUESA, I volunteer with Bay Leaf Kitchen and the SPCA (I love dogs!!). I cook, eat, and explore the food scene in San Francisco, which is pretty awesome at the moment. I love the outdoors and am so grateful to live in a city like San Francisco, where nature is just around the corner.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?

Kira: Seeing the kids trying a fruit or vegetable that they have always disliked and loving it! It really makes a difference to let the kids get involved with shopping and cooking.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?

Kira: Spring is just around the corner and I spotted this season’s first green garlic! I made a really yummy soup with broccoli, fennel, green garlic, and tahini.