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.

COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Requirement

We require our teaching team including our staff, peer health educators, and volunteers to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination plus a booster (2 weeks after finishing a 2-dose or 1-dose course of vaccination) when working in-person. Vaccinations are one of the most effective preventative measures in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives. Our Cooking Matters classes are offered to some of the most vulnerable populations and we want to assure that we are keeping the communities we serve safe. Thank you for your understanding.

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 3 Cooking Matters series in year! 

How to Become a CM Volunteer

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

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

3. 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. 

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
1:15 - 3pm* Wednesdays April 13th - May 25th (skip week of 5/18) 
Abraham Lincoln HS 2162 24th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94116
Chef Instructor Needed

Cooking Matters for Teens
1-2:30pm* Fridays April 15th - May 20th
Independence High School Wellness Center 1350 7th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
Chef Instructor Needed

Cooking Matters for Kids
12-2pm* Tuesdays April 19th - May 24th
Hillcrest Elementary School 810 Silver Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134
Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Adults
11-1pm* Thursdays April 14th - May 26th (skip May 19th)
Saint Mary's Medical Center Sister Mary Philippa Health Center, 2235 Hayes St #5, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Chef Volunteer Needed

Cooking Matters for Adults
1-3pm* Thursdays May 5 - June 2nd (skip May 19th)
NEMS Medical Center 369 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133,
All positions filled

Cooking Matters for Adults 
11:30 - 1pm Wednesdays June 1st - July 13th (skip July 6th)
San Francisco AIDS Foundation 1035 Market St #400, San Francisco, CA 94103
Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Kids 
2- 3:45pm* Tuesdays June 7th - July 19th (skip July 5th) 
Bret Harte Elementary Summer Program 1035 Gilman Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124 
Chef Instructor Needed, Nutrition Instructor Needed, Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Kids 
1- 2:30pm* Wednesdays June 8 - July 13th (skip July 6th) *5 weeks*
Flynn Elementary School Summer Program with Mission Graduates, 3125 Cesar Chavez, San Francisco, CA 94110 
Chef Instructor Needed, Nutrition Instructor Needed, Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Adults 
2:30-4pm* Thursdays June 23th - August 8st (skipping July 7th) 
DISH SF, "The Star Hotel" 2176 Mission Street San Francisco, CA
Chef Instructor Needed, Nutrition Instructor Needed, Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Teens + Adults 
3-4:30pm* Thursdays June 23rd - August 4th (Skip July 7th) 
First Place Youth, 30 Harriet St, San Francisco, CA 94103 
Chef Instructor Needed, Class Assistant Needed

Alameda County 

Cooking Matters for Kids 
2:35 - 3:50pm* Thursdays, April 14 - May 19 
Sylvia Mendez 2840 Ellsworth St, Berkeley, CA 94705
Nutrition Instructor, Class Assistant needed

Cooking Matters for Teens 
2:30-4:00pm* Wednesdays, April 20- May 11
La Escuelita, 1050 2nd Ave, Oakland, CA 94606
Nutrition Instructor, Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Kids 
2:35 - 3:50pm* Thursdays, April 14 - May 19 
Parker Elementary, 7929 Ney Ave, Oakland, CA 94605
Class Assistant needed

Cooking Matters for Kids - Girls Inc. Summer Camp 
3:30-5:00pm* Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, June 21 - June 30 
Concordia Park, 2901 64th Ave, Oakland, CA 94605
*Female Identifying Nutrition Instructor, Cooking Instructor, Class Assistant needed

Contra Costa  

Cooking Matters for Kids 
1:00 - 2:30pm* Wednesdays, April 4 - May 25 (no class May 18th)
Riverside Elementary, 1300 Amador St., San Pablo, CA 94806 

Cooking Matters for Kids 
3 - 4:30pm* Thursdays, April 14 - May 26th (no class May 19th)
Fred T. Korematsu Middle School, 7125 Donal Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530 

Cooking Matters for Teen Parents 
1:00 - 2:25pm* Fridays, April 15 - May 20th 
Crossroads High School, 2701 Willow Pass Rd, Concord, CA 94519

Cooking Matters para Familias (Spanish) 
5:00 - 7:00pm* Tuesdays, April 19 - May 24 
San Pablo Community Center, 2450 Road 20 San Pablo, CA 94806

Cooking Matters for Adults 
12:30 - 2:30pm* Thursdays, May 26 - June 30
Crescent Park EAH Housing, 5004 Hartnett Ave., Richmond, CA 94804 
Cooking Instructor needed 

Cooking Matters for Families 
5:00 - 7:00pm* Tuesdays, June 7 - July 19 (no class July 5th) 
San Pablo Community Center, 2450 Road 20, San Pablo CA, 94806 
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Teens 
1:30 - 3:00pm* Tue. June 14, Wed. June 15, Thur. June 16
Kennedy High School, 4300 Cutting Blvd, Richmond, CA 94804
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant 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 
Spanish-speaking Cooking Instructor, Nutrition 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
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and 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
Spanish-speaking Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and 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
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Online Volunteer Positions

Cooking Matters for Adults
11- 12:30 Pm, Thursdays, June 2nd - 23rd (4-week series) 
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Openhouse SF 
Online Cooking Instructor, Online Nutrition Instructor, and Online Zoom Assistant 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.