Volunteer in Cooking Matters

18 Reasons offers free hands-on cooking, budgeting, and nutrition 6-week series to Bay Area communities through our Cooking Matters program. We work in partnership with various community sites and schools and provide the program to kids, teens, adults, and families. The classes pair hands-on cooking with culturally appropriate nutrition lessons and are facilitated by a teaching team of an 18 Reasons staff member, peer health educators, and volunteers. 

We have volunteer opportunities available for community-minded helpers passionate about sharing their love of good food, home-cooking, and supporting our vision of creating more equity and belonging through food education. There is no professional experience required to volunteer to teach a Cooking Matters series, please read on to learn more about our volunteer roles, the time commitment we ask of our volunteers, and how to get started as a volunteer. We accept volunteers on a rolling basis. 

Cooking Matters Volunteer Role Descriptions

Cooking Educator Role Description (In-Person) 
You are a cooking enthusiast! No professional experience required, just a love of sharing home-cooking and food. 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 Program Coordinator and class participants to select recipes for class each week. The coordinator brings the food and cooking equipment — no need to bring anything other than yourself and the instructor manual 18 Reasons will provide you. Required to have a valid CA Food Handler Card, the SafeServ certificate costs $15 and takes about 1-2 hours to complete training, we offer 20% off with the code EMPLOYEE20 

Nutrition Educator Role Description (In-Person) 
You do not need to have a professional background as a 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 using activities, lesson plans, and visual aids provided by 18 Reasons. Required to have a valid CA Food Handler Card, the SafeServ certificate costs $15 and takes about 1-2 hours to complete training, we offer 20% off with the code EMPLOYEE20 

Class Assistant Role Description (In-Person) 
Class assistants primarily help the teaching team with classroom set-up, food preparation, and cleaning up. Class assistants often do interact with students to help support their learning. Common class assistant duties include packing groceries for participants to take home, loading/unloading kitchen equipment, and washing dishes. Many people volunteer as a class assistant for their first series, although it is not required to serve as a class assistant before taking on a teaching role as the Chef Educator or Nutrition Educator. Required to have a valid CA Food Handler Card, the SafeServ certificate costs $15 and takes about 1-2 hours to complete training, we offer 20% off with the code EMPLOYEE20 

Cooking Matters at Home Volunteer Role Descriptions
(Virtual)

Online 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 Program Coordinator and class participants to select recipes for class each week. Students will receive Cook-it-kits to cook alongside you, and each class will end with a delicious and healthy meal! You will be responsible for providing clear and visible audio and video set-up into your kitchen and cutting board, and for gathering your own ingredients, though 18 Reasons can provide a limited stipend for each class. 

Online Nutrition Educator:
You do not need to have a professional background as a 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 using activities, lesson plans, and visual aids provided by 18 Reasons. 

Time Commitment

Cooking Matters classes meet once a week for six weeks. and we ask that volunteers are able to commit to a full 6 week series. Classes are held anytime between 9:00am and 8:00pm, Tuesday-Friday.
 Each week, Cooking Matters classes require a time commitment of class time, plus 30 minutes of prep time before class, and up to 30 minutes of clean-up after class (so that's 3 hours per week).
 In addition, communication (via email) with the Cooking Matters Program Coordinator about class scheduling, curriculum, etc. is expected. 
Volunteers are encouraged to contribute to all aspects of the class, including set-up, clean-up, and food preparation.

Volunteer Benefits

We love our volunteers! In addition to creating and empowering community through food, volunteers receive one meal per class, training and coaching, and are invited to volunteer appreciation celebrations! Volunteers earn a complimentary ticket to their choice of 18th Street Kitchen class after volunteering for 2 Cooking Matters series in year! 

How to Become a CM Volunteer

1. Fill out a volunteer application
Please complete the short volunteer applicationAn 18 Reasons staff member will follow up with you within a week. 

2. Sign up for an open volunteer position
We post new volunteer positions as they become available, and we fill them on a first come, first served basis. To sign up, please review our class schedule below and email us to let us know what series and role you're interested in. We also send out a monthly volunteer newsletter with available positions. If nothing fits your schedule right now, please fill out an applicaiton to receive updates on future classes. 

3. Complete the self-led volunteer trainings online
Watch all the 18 Reasons online volunteer training videos, read and review the Volunteer Handbook, and review the the Cooking Matters Facilitator Training online. 

4. Submit proof of the COVID-19 Vaccination and valid CA Food Handler card (In-Person Volunteers)
It is required that all in-person volunteers submit proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and have a valid CA Food Handler card. Please submit here or email cookingmattersvolunteers@18reasons.org copies of these documents. The CA Food Handler Card through SafeServ costs $15 and takes about 1-2 hours to complete training. We are able to offer reimbursement if needed. 

5. Shadow an ongoing Cooking Matters class 
When you visit an ongoing class series, the 18 Reasons Program Coordinator on site 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. This is available for both in-person and online classes. Please email CookingMattersVolunteers@18reasons.org for available classes and to sign up. 

6. Attend a pre-class meeting
Once you are signed up to volunteer in a CM series, your series' Program Coordinator will invite you to a pre-class meeting, wherein you will meet fellow members of the teaching team, get to know the classroom space, receive a copy of the curriculum, and prepare for your first class meeting with participants.

Available Volunteer Opportunities

See below for our current and upcoming schedule of Cooking Matters series. Refer to the schedule to find a class to shadow or sign up for an open volunteer role for an upcoming series. We update the schedule on a rolling basis. Email cookingmattersvolunteers@gmail.com to sign up or with any schedule questions. 

In-Person Volunteer Positions

*All in-person volunteer positions should plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of class time to help with set-up and plan to stay up to 30 minutes after class time to help with clean up. 

San Francisco

Cooking Matters for Teens + Adults 
3-4:30pm* Thursdays July 14th- August 18th (skip August 11th) 
First Place Youth, 30 Harriet St, San Francisco, CA 94103 
All positions filled

Cooking Matters for Adults 
11-1:30pm* Wednesdays August 3rd - September 7th
Kain Na Food Bank with Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, 1340 4th St. San Francisco, CA 94158
All positions filled

Cooking Matters for Adults 
2:30 - 4pm* Wednesdays August 24th - November 2nd (every other week)
Alemany Farm, 1700 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94110
Nutrition Instructor needed 

Cooking Matters for Teens 
11am-1pm* Fridays, September 16th - October 21st
Access Program at Thurgood Marshall High School, 45 Conkling St, San Francisco, CA 94124
Nutrition Instructor needed, Cooking Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed

Cooking Matters for Adults 
11:30 - 1pm* Tuesdays, September 13th - October 18th
IN: San Francisco , 261 Octavia St Suite A, San Francisco, CA 94102
Class Assistant needed

Cooking Matters for Teens 
4:30 - 5:30pm* Wednesdays, September 21th - October 26th
Thurgood Marshall High School, 45 Conkling St, San Francisco, CA 94124
Nutrition Instructor needed, Cooking Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed

Cooking Matters for Teens 
1:10 - 2:30pm* Tuesdays, September 27th - November 1st
Independence High School, 1350 7th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed

Cooking Matters para Familias (Spanish) 
5:00 - 6:30pm* Tuesdays October 4 - November 8th
SOMACC (South of Market Child Care), 685 Natoma St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Spanish Speaking Nutrition Instructor Needed, Spanish Speaking Cooking Instructor Needed

Cooking Matters for Kids
2:40 - 4pm* Fridays October 28th - Dec 16th (Skip Nov 11th & 25th) 
San Francisco Community School 125 Excelsior Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor Needed , Class Assistant Needed

Alameda County 

Cooking Matters for Families
5:00-7:00pm* Thursdays, July 14 - August 18 (5-week series)
University Neighborhood Apartments, 1719 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94703
All positions filled 

Cooking Matters for Adults
1-3pm* Tuesdays, July 19 - August 23
St. Andrews Manor, 3250 San Pablo Ave #209, Oakland, CA 94608
Cooking Instructor, Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Adults
11am-1pm* Fridays, July 22 - August 26
Monarch Apartments, 3268 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94608
Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Teens
12:30-1:50pm* Wednesdays, August 24 - December 7 (12-week series)
ARISE High School, 3301 E. 12th Street., Unit 205, Oakland, CA 94601
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor Needed , Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Kids
2:20-3:30pm* Wednesdays, September 7 - October 12
John Muir Elementary School, 2955 Claremont Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor Needed 

Contra Costa  

Cooking Matters para Familias (Spanish
4:30 - 6:30pm* Wednesdays, July 20 - August 24
Lifelong William Jenkins Health Center, 150 Harbour Way, Suite 200, Richmond, CA 94801
Class is fully staffed 

Cooking Matters for Families
12:30 - 2:30pm* Fridays, July 22 - August 19 (5 weeks) 
Crescent Park, 5004 Hartnett Ave., Richmond, CA 94804 
Nutrition instructor needed 

Cooking Matters para Familias (Spanish
5:00 - 7:00pm* Tuesdays, July 26 - August 30 
San Pablo Community Center, 2450 Road 20, San Pablo CA, 94806 
Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters para Padres (Spanish) 
1:00 - 2:25pm* Fridays, September 9 - October 14
Crossroads High School, 2701 Willow Pass Rd, Concord, CA 94519
Spanish-speaking Nutrition Instructor, Cooking Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Parents 
9:30 - 11:30am* Tuesdays, September 13 - October 18 
Stoneman Elementary School, 2929 Loveridge Rd, Pittsburg, CA 94565
Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters para Padres (Spanish
9:30 - 11:15am* Wednesdays, September 14 - October 19 
Willow Cover Elementary, 1880 Hanlon Way, Pittsburg, CA 94565
Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Teens 
3:30 - 5:00pm* (class on 9/23 is 2:40 - 4:10)* Fridays, September 16 - October 21
Kennedy High School, 4300 Cutting Blvd, Richmond, CA 94804
Nutrition Instructor,  Cooking Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Kids 
2:30 - 4:00* Wednesdays, September 21 - October 26 
Montalvin K8, 300 Christine Dr. San Pablo CA 94806
Nutrition Instructor,  Cooking Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Online Volunteer Positions

Cooking Matters at Home  - Families class
5-6:30pm, Wednesdays, September 14 - October 5th (4-week series) 
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Children's Council 
All positions filled 

Cooking Matters Para Familia (Spanish Class) 
5-6:30pm, Thursdays, October 20 - November 10 (4-week series) 
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Children's Council 
Online spanish speaking cooking instructor needed, online spanish speaking nutrition inctructor needed

Contact Us

If you have questions about volunteering with the Cooking Matters program or would like to sign up for one of the positions listed above, please email us at CookingMattersVolunteers@18reasons.org.