Volunteers of the Month: Spring Interns

June 28, 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 sign up here.

Every spring brings intern support for CUESA’s educational programs. This past season’s interns had a range of experience in nursing, environmental education and organic farming. Maggie Thompson, a studying nurse at the University of San Francisco, brought to Foodwise Kids her passion for preventing chronic diseases and health disparities by promoting healthy food choices and lifestyle habits from an early age. Nhi Nguyen, a San Francisco native known in the kitchen as “Chef Nëmo”, shared her expertise working with youth in environmental education at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and had students laughing while cooking fresh, seasonal, local food in the CUESA kitchen.

“Maggie Thompson and Nhi Nguyen, our Spring Foodwise Kids interns have been such an instrumental part in completing another successful semester of this free program,” says Education Specialist Anisha Rathod. “This semester we held 58 free Foodwise Kids field trips for over 1200 San Francisco Unified School District elementary schoolers and over 200 family members and chaperones at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Special Events Intern Terra Rosenberg came with an interest in sustainable food systems and nonprofits and supported our education programs by soliciting and coordinating the silent auction for CUESA’s recent Summer Bash. On occasion she would lend a hand to help teach the Foodwise Kids program.

“Terra was a wonderful addition to the CUESA team these past few months. She coordinated our silent auction process from start to finish, which is no small undertaking,” says Development & Event Coordinator Rebecca Crawbuck. “Her work made a huge impact at our Summer Bash and helped us meet our fundraising goals. She is committed, thoughtful, and a true delight to work with.” Meet Nhi (left), Maggie (also left), and Terra (right).

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Nhi: My interest and appreciation of food have always come from my mother. She is a chef and my inspiration. Food can be seen as a way to nourish our body and empower our cultural heritage. It can also be used as a medium to educate about sustainability and connectivity to various systems. I hope to use food choices as a way to empower people.

Maggie: Food plays such a significant role in disease prevention and overall well-being. In order for that to be a positive influence you have to establish an environment for healthy eating – meaning basic knowledge, access to resources, and a certain level of agency. I am interested in the concept of food as medicine but also how policy and programs can impact food justice.

Terra: I’ve always loved food! My interest began in college at The Evergreen State College, where I had the opportunity to work on my school’s organic farm.

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

Nhi: You can catch me biking around the city and exploring the outdoors. I also enjoy creating art in any medium!

Maggie: In my free time, I love to spend time outside. Whether that is hiking along the coast or exploring different SF neighborhoods. It just feel good to get out of the apartment for a bit and move.

Terra: Teaching Pre-K and spending time with my family.

CUESA: What was your favorite part about interning with CUESA?

Nhi: I enjoyed serving SF Unified School District youth to help them connect to their food sources through a hands-on learning experience.  It was wonderful to see the excitement from the youth tasting a new vegetables like beets and asparagus for the first time! The program has brought me so much joy in seeing the young people excited about cooking and eating healthy.

Maggie: I enjoyed seeing the students be creative in the kitchen. It’s a fairly free-form program so everything we buy or make is based on what’s fresh that day and almost 100% student-driven. I remember one time my group was having a difficult time coming to a consensus on what to make. We ended up combining two dish ideas – fruit salad and tacos into these delicious roasted strawberry, fennel and butternut squash lettuce cup. They were so tasty! Seeing kids go from “I don’t like vegetables” to gobbling down a super gourmet vegetable dish that they created all in the span of 2.5 hours is a pretty incredible experience!

Terra: Being around so many talented and driven women!

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

Nhi: Enjoy everything that is seasonal! Especially fresh figs and stone fruits!

Maggie: It’s all so good right now. I like to ask the farmers/vendors for their recommendations on particularly seasonal and yummy produce. Sometimes that means I come home with a fairly random haul. But honestly, Foodwise Kids has reinforced my market motto, “If it grows together it goes together” and re-inspired my appreciation for super fresh home cooking.

Terra: My favorite in-season produce item of the moment is rainbow chard. I love Cypress Flower Farm and Four Sisters Farm. They both sell beautiful flower bouquets.