Volunteer of the Month: Niki Santisteven

March 23, 2023

Headshot of Niki Santisteven at Mission Community Market

Foodwise’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. Foodwise relies on volunteers 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. You can also sign up for our next volunteer orientation on June 3, 2023, here.

Food professional Nichol “Niki” Santisteven joined as a Foodwise volunteer at the start of summer 2022 committed to our mission of growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. In addition to regularly supporting the Info Booth and Veggie Valet at Saturday’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, she has volunteered for Summer Bash, Sunday Supper, and to assist with Foodwise cooking demonstrations.

“Niki is such a great help and presence at the Info Booth or Veggie Valet,” says Operations Coordinator Deven Okry. “She is proactive, looks for any way to help, and has fun stories to share.”

“It has been such a pleasure having Niki support our Saturday cooking demos,” says Education Director Tiffany Chung. “She always brings an enthusiastic and can-do attitude that makes cooking demos fun. I’m so grateful that she lends her cooking expertise to us, and I look forward to continuing working with her.” Meet Niki.

Foodwise: Where does your interest in food come from?

Niki: I am a chef and culinary instructor and spend a chunk of my free time reading about the food system. I also love travel and love exploring new restaurants and food opportunities when I go to new places.

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

Niki: I currently teach high school culinary class but am getting ready to make the move to community college. For fun I take salsa dancing lessons, go to live shows, and work side gigs to fund my travels.

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

Niki: I started volunteering because I love the work that Foodwise is doing in community education and food access, but part of why I come back a few times a month is because I love getting to interact with the Foodwise staff and volunteers. Everyone is wonderful, kind, and a joy to talk to. Being around people who love food and who want to share that love of the food system with others is a great way to re-energize after a stressful week.

Foodwise: What does Foodwise mean to you? 

Niki: Foodwise is an example of the good that can be done when communities come together, and an example of programs that should exist everywhere.

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

Niki: Any fresh produce or pasture-raised protein. If I have a big market haul, I try to dedicate time that afternoon or Sunday morning to meal prep for the week. If I purchase more protein than I can eat in the next few days, I freeze it with marinade so that it will marinate as it thaws when I pull it out of the freezer to cook.

Niki Santisteven at the Foodwise Kitchen, assisting with Foodwise demo prep
Niki Santisteven (center) preparing for a Foodwise demo.