Food for Thought – Make a Difference Day

October 24, 2009  •  Food for Thought

Today is USA Weekend’s Make A Difference Day, a national day established to organize millions of Americans and motivate them to volunteer in their communities and make a difference. While I applaud the effort, I firmly believe we can only strengthen our communities by volunteering and making a difference throughout the year, not just on one single day.
I think most of you know where I devote my energy around philanthropy – it’s in the food world. First up is Share Our Strength, committed to the simple sounding but very difficult task of ensuring that no kid grows up hungry in America.

Operation Frontline is the part of Share Our Strength that teaches the Eating Right curriculum, a 6- week series of classes to teach healthy heating on a budget. Classes are led by an OFL coordinator (Megan, Victoria, Betsy, Emily, and Christina from OFL Colorado are all tireless in this task) and are divided into a nutrition portion taught by a volunteer Nutrition Educator and a cooking lesson, which I teach as a volunteer Chef Educator. In the spirit of working towards ensuring that there is No Kid Hungry, I also create meals and serve them to the students and tutors at the Whiz Kids tutoring program at Confluence a couple of times a month.
My second passion is around local food, and that means more than just belonging to Monroe Organic Farm’s CSA, more than seeking out local farmers and ranchers for Colorado grass fed meat, and more than patronizing local farmers’ markets. It also means giving of my time to support them, and my current efforts include creating a CSA seasonal cookbook for Monroe that will be available at next year’s sign up.

The final part of my volunteer work is through Slow Food. I became involved in the organization originally because I just believed in their values (good, clean, fair food), but this year was lucky to jump into Slow Food Denver’s Seed to Table school gardens program.

I spent several Mondays cooking with the student gardeners at Fairmont Dual Immersion Academy…

…making everything from radish tartines to zucchini soup, amazed at how willing kids are to try something new when they’ve grown it and cooked it themselves.

I also assisted with numerous school’s Youth Farmer’s Markets, cooking and providing samples to help attract buyers to the markets.

The enthusiasm of the kids at the markets was inspiring, and it was especially great to be able to take the left over produce from the market into the classrooms at one of the schools to cook with groups of students each week. From salad with homemade ranch dressing, to chili, to vegetable soup, the kids loved everything almost as much as I loved my time with them!
I relate these experiences not to boast of my involvement, and not to guilt you into doing something, but to point out that when you can find opportunities to volunteer around something you are passionate about (for me, good, clean, fair, local food and making sure everyone has the opportunity to experience that bounty), then volunteer work becomes a “feel good” experience, not a chore. Want to get involved in the food world as a volunteer? Here are some opportunities in Colorado and beyond:
  • Slow Food – learn about how to support good, clean, fair food
  • Slow Food Seed to Table – help students in school gardens
  • Find a CSA – sign up for one for next year and support farming in your community by eating local
  • Project Angel Heart – help provide nutritious meals to people battling life-threatening illnesses
  • Support a local food bank in your area – Food Bank of the Rockies and Bienvenidos Food Bank are two in the Denver area – by volunteering your time and supporting them with cash or food donations
  • Join the fight against childhood hunger by volunteering with Operation Frontline as a nutrition educator, chef educator, shopper or class assistant
  • Support Share Our Strength by attending a local Taste of the Nation event in your area or volunteer to work one of the events
  • Organize a Great American Bakesale in your kids’ school or your neighborhood
  • Check out Volunteer Match where you can key in your geographic location and interest – here are the current volunteer opportunities involving food in the Denver area
  • Visit United Way’s online database of volunteer opportunities
  • Scan Volunteers of America to find opportunities to make a difference in your community


2 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. The Healthy Apple says:

    Great post and beautifully written….these are wonderful resources, thank you so very much…you have a fabulous blog and I truly enjoy reading your posts…I'm looking forward to meeting you at the Foodbuzz festival in San Fran…
    Have a great night….

  2. Shauna says:

    I need to to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it.
    I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things you

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