Farm to Table for Kids

18 Sep

This summer I tried to stay busy while simultaneously relaxing after my ambitious summer class schedule last year. I thought that I would just be volunteering with a dietitian a couple days a week while I scoured the web for food service job opportunities.

I applied to many and got no responses, until one day I check my email and saw an email from Marjorie Sawicki, a professor in the Nutrition Department and Public Health. She was looking for a student to work for her program, Farm to Table for kids, that teaches sustainability and cooking with local produce to kids ages 5-13 at the Belleville Old Town Market, a farmer’s market. The program receives a Federal Grant to purchase materials for the class.

After the kids cook with produce purchased at the market, they sample it and then pass out samples to the farmers and other vendors at the market and build a relationship with the farmers. They get to see the face that grows their food and personally thank them for caring about their food and bringing it into town for people to buy.

It is an experience that I will cherish and it developed me as a future dietitian. It also opened my eyes to other opportunities in community nutrition. I could have easily missed the chance to participate in this if i didn’t open that email.

So, what should you do with your summers?

  • Work in food service hospital tray lines or other settings.  Apply early on and do not wait like I did because when I knew it was time to get some food service experience, I did not get any interviews. So, open those doors before you need them.
  • Search for food service or nutrition education volunteer opportunities. Some good resources to find these opportunities are other students, teachers, the Department’s SLU Global page, or dosomething.org are all good places to start.
  • Contact local dietitians, shadow them and take on whatever tasks they are willing to give you.
  • Write it ALL down! Keep a running list of activities in which you participate.  Include the frequency and tasks that you did while there.

Ashley Downs is a senior in the undergraduate program of Nutrition and Dietetics at Saint Louis University and the SLUDA President.

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