Cooking Matters

Give Back





1. Fill out our online volunteer application

You can find our application by clicking here. An 18 Reasons staff member will follow up within a week. You can also call or email us at any time. 

2. Complete the Cooking Matters online volunteer training

You can find the online volunteer training on the Share Our Strength website.

3. Shadow an ongoing class

When you visit, the class coordinator will walk you step-by-step through a typical Cooking Matters class. You’ll have the chance to observe other volunteers teaching and ask any questions you have about the program.

4. Sign up for an open volunteer position

We post new volunteer positions every two weeks and fill them on a first come, first served basis. To sign up, please review our class schedule and call or email us. Only the series that have "volunteers needed" listed below have open volunteer positions. 

5. Attend a Class Zero

Once you are signed up for a class, your class coordinator will invite you to a Class Zero meeting where you will meet your volunteer team, get to know the classroom space, receive a copy of the curriculum, and prepare for your first class.





Cooking Educator

You are a cooking enthusiast! During class, you will lead highly participatory cooking lessons featuring simple, healthy recipes. You will demonstrate and practice basic cooking techniques and terminology, proper knife handling, and food safety and sanitation measures. You will work with the 18 Reasons staff coordinator and class participants to select recipes for class each week. The coordinator brings the food and cooking equipment.


Nutrition Educator

You do not have to be a professional nutritionist or dietitian to succeed in this role; you just need a love of healthy eating and an eagerness to help others. Some of our nutritionist volunteers do have a background in nutrition, food science, dietetics, or a related field, but it is not required. Class topics include using MyPlate as a tool for healthy eating, planning balanced meals, eating healthier fats, food budgeting, serving sizes, reading nutrition labels, and physical activity. The classes are intended to be interactive, and the nutrition educator facilitates open-minded conversation in class including using activities and visual aids that are provided by 18 Reasons.


Class Assistant

Class assistants primarily help instructors and facilitators with classroom set-up, food preparation, activities and clean up. Other duties may include packing groceries for participants to take home, unloading and loading kitchen equipment, and washing dishes. Many people volunteer as a class assistant for their first series.



Classes meet once a week for six weeks.
 Classes are held anytime between 9:00am and 8:00pm, Tuesday-Friday.
 Each week, the classes require a time commitment of two hours plus 30 minutes of prep time and up to 30 minutes of clean-up each week.
 In addition, communication with the Cooking Matters coordinator regarding class scheduling and the curriculum is expected. 
Volunteers are encouraged to contribute to all aspects of the class, including set-up, clean-up, and food preparation.


If you have questions about volunteering with the Cooking Matters program,
please email


Please note: if you are interested in volunteering for events in our 18th St. Classroom (i.e. the events posted here), you must attend a separate orientation. To review the steps to volunteer for 18th St. Classroom events, please click here and follow the directions for "18th St. Classroom Crew." 



San Francisco County Classes

Cooking Matters para Familias (Spanish)
Wednesdays, 6:15pm-8:15pm, Oct 23rd-Dec 4th
Children's Council, 455 Church St. SF

Cooking Matters for Adults
Wednesdays, 11:30am-1:30pm, Nov 6th-Dec 11th
VA Medical Center, 4150 Clement St. SF

Cooking Matters for Kids
Thursdays, 2:15pm-3:45pm, Nov 7th-Dec 12th
Hillcrest Elementary, 810 Silver Ave. SF
Volunteers needed: Class Assistant

Alameda County Classes

Cooking Matters for Teens
Tuesdays, 4:00pm-5:30pm, Oct 15th-Dec 3rd (Skip Thanksgiving Week)
Greenleaf Elementary School, 6328 E 17th St, Oakland
Volunteers needed: Cooking Educator, Nutrition Educator

Cooking Matters for Teens
Thursdays, 4:00pm-5:30pm, Oct 17th-Dec 5th (Skip Thanksgiving Week)
Westlake Middle School, 2629 Harrison St, Oakland
Volunteers needed: Cooking Educator, Nutrition Educator, Class Assistant

Cooking Matters for Kids
Wednesdays, 1:30pm-3:15pm, Oct 30th-Dec 11th (Skip Thanksgiving)
Fruitvale Elementary, 3200 Boston Ave, Oakland
Volunteers needed: Cooking Educator, Nutrition Educator, Class Assistant

Cooking Matters for Kids
Thursdays, 4:00pm-5:30pm, Nov 7th-Dec 12th (Skip Thanksgiving)
Encompass Academy, 1025 81st Ave, Oakland
Volunteers needed: Class Assistant

Contra Costa County Classes

Cooking Matters para Familias (Spanish)
Thursdays, 3:00pm-5:00pm, Oct 10th-Nov 21st (skip Oct 31st)
Washington Elementary, 565 Wine St, Richmond
Volunteers needed: Class Assistant

Cooking Matters para Adultos (Spanish)
Tuesdays, 5:30pm-7:30pm, Oct 22nd-Dec 3rd
Lifelong Brookside Clinic, 2023 Vale Rd, San Pablo
Volunteers needed: Class Assistant

Cooking Matters for Families
Saturdays, 10:30-12:30pm, Oct 26th-Dec 7th (skip Nov 30th)
San Pablo Community Center, 2450 Rd 20, San Pablo
Volunteers needed: Cooking Educator, Class Assistant

Cooking Matters para Padres (Spanish)
Tuesdays, 8:30am-10:30am, Oct 29th-Dec 3rd
Lincoln Elementary, 29 S 6th St, Richmond
Volunteers needed: Class Assistant

Cooking Matters para Adultos (Spanish)
Tuesdays 9:00-11:00am, Nov 12th-Dec 17th
Virginia Lane Apartments, 1121 Virginia Ln, Concord
Volunteers needed: Class Assistant