Volunteers of the Month: Foodwise Kids, Foodwise Teens, and Food Access and Outreach Interns

December 27, 2019

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 submit an application here and sign up for our next volunteer orientation on January 8, 2020 here.

We close the year so thankful for the many fall CUESA interns who made our educational work happen during the second half of 2019. With the support of our volunteers, they connected with thousands of children, youth and adults in our Foodwise Kids and Foodwise Teens programs, and at our farmers markets.

“This semester at Foodwise Kids, we worked with 52 San Francisco Unified School District elementary school classes and shared our love of eating fresh, local, and seasonal foods with over 1,000 students, chaperones, and teachers,” says Education Coordinator Anisha Rathod. “We couldn’t have done any of it without our stellar Foodwise Kids Intern team! Grace, Serenah, Jay Ann, and Sara all brought an array of skills, experiences, and insights to their internships at Foodwise Kids. They developed new materials to make the program more accessible to students of diverse learning abilities and helped us rethink how we use our curriculum to empower students to make food choices that serve them. Their work made a huge impact not only on the future of the program but also on the kids they worked with!”

Grace Berry: “Working with Foodwise Kids was an ever-changing yet always rewarding experience. It was amazing seeing how children’s viewpoints can change just by discovering new foods, plus an empowering environment! Watching the kids’ faces light up when they tasted their creations was always entertaining, and I really valued the community I found with the other interns, volunteers and CUESA as a whole. This internship helped me build confidence in my public speaking, taught me much about the local food system, and overall pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m very grateful for this experience!”

Sara Fetterly: “I’m so happy I landed with CUESA and Foodwise Kids this fall! Being new to the area, it was important for me to find a community that supported and challenged my passions for social justice education and the food system. Not only did interning with Foodwise Kids place me in such a community, we also had so much fun cooking with the students twice a week. Their excitement for purple cauliflower, kale chips, or spaghetti squash was contagious. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience working with CUESA, and am excited to stay involved. Thanks for recognizing our work!”

Jay Ann Leyson: “This internship (Foodwise Kids and Food Access and Outreach) was important to me because it involved nutrition/healthy eating, children, cooking, and community, all of which I am passionate about. I improved my social skills while I learned about sustainable food systems in the farmers market and CUESA. I learned about teamwork, communication, and teaching styles in working with the other interns, volunteers, students, and teachers. It’s important to let the students make their own choices of what to make so they can feel empowered and have a voice about food. I learned about being creative with the students in cooking and trying out new things. It’s really important to expose children to fruits and vegetables because they learn about healthy eating and trying out vegetables and fruits that they might not have tried before. CUESA’s Foodwise Kids makes a big impact because the teachers learn more ways to teach their students about healthy eating, and the students want to eat and try out more fruits and vegetables. Thank you so much CUESA for everything.”

Serenah Truong: “Being an intern for CUESA’s Foodwise Kids Program has been incredibly rewarding and important to me. It’s been a wonderful learning experience to teach kids about where their food comes from and get them excited about cooking. I’ve witnessed kids cook with a new vegetable and excitedly ask me to remind them about each step so they can go home and make it again. Those little moments remind me how special this program is and the impact it has on the kids. ”

“Starting from a love of cooking and support at our Saturday demos, Jorge Kalil’s curiosity led him to a commitment as our first ever Foodwise Teens intern, participating in nearly every training at three different high schools over the course of 10 weeks,” says Education Manager Tessa Kappe. “Not only did he help with anything and everything, from cooking and farming and youth development, his warmth and calm steady presence endeared students and staff alike. The few days he was unable to be present due to work commitments resulted in the students’ disappointment and heartbreak. ‘Where’s Jorge?!’ they’d cry,  and, upon his return, ‘Jorge! Where were you?! We missed you!’  I am eternally grateful for his patience, support of our evolving young program, and the care he brought each day for the young people we served this semester. Muito obrigado, Jorge!”

Jorge Kalil: “Working with Foodwise Teens was, at first, a sincere attempt to learn more about gardening and refine my knowledge of food justice, sustainability, and cooking. While I did achieve these goals, I found myself valuing my experience because of the connections I made with the 50 students we taught every week. Yes, it was great to get more exposure to lesson planning and facilitating, but my fondest memories are of the side conversations I had with students while planting rows of bok-choy, sautéing broccoli with copious amounts of spices, and listening to so many inspiring accounts of the students connections to food. Needless to say, I learned the most from the interactions between students, the environment, and their food. This was a very eye opening experience and I am excited to see what the teens do next!”

Our Food Access and Outreach Interns Jay Ann Layson (also a Foodwise Kids intern) and David Pack brought simple market recipes and activities to our market visitors. “David contributed his ongoing education in nutrition to this fall’s internship cycle,” says Farmers Market Access and Programs Coordinator Katy Burnett. “The recipes he developed made an impact and delighted shoppers, and it was great working alongside him to share samples with our Oakland market community. Jay Ann’s expertise working with children gave her a step up in designing Kids’ Corner activities, but more than anything, I was inspired by her drive, eagerness, and passion to learn more and try new things. I learned a lot from working with David and Jay Ann and am grateful for the contributions they made to our educational programming.”

David Pack: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with CUESA as a Food Access and Programs intern! Having the opportunity to develop recipes and sample them out to the community at Jack London Square Farmers Market was an amazing experience. Throughout my time as an intern I was able to not only share my passion for food and healthy eating, but I was able to share my culture with the community as well. During the last month of my internship I developed recipes that displayed my three cultures: Cuban, Korean, and Filipino. As an aspiring doctor, I hope to incorporate what I learned through this internship by integrating diet and healthy eating into how I treat patients in the future. Thank you CUESA for this amazing experience that I will take with me for the rest of my life!”