Volunteer in Cooking Matters

18 Reasons offers free hands-on cooking 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 are facilitated by a teaching team of an 18 Reasons staff member and volunteers as the cooking, nutrition, and class assistants for the series. Volunteers are an essential part of our organization! 

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. 

How to Become a Cooking Matters Volunteer

1. Fill out our volunteer interest form
Please complete the short volunteer interest formAn 18 Reasons staff member will follow up with you within a week. Feel free to email cookingmattersvolunteers@18reasons.org with any questions.

2. Sign up for an open volunteer position in a series 
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 and familarize yourself with the curriculum 
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 Food Handler card 
It is required that all in-person volunteers submit proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and have a valid Food Handler card. Please submit here or email cookingmattersvolunteers@18reasons.org copies of these documents. The Food Handler Card through SafeServ costs $15 and takes about 1-2 hours to complete training, we are able to offer reimbursement if needed. All volunteers must be masked during class. 

5. Shadow a 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.

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 curriculum, 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. 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 

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. *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. 

In-Person Volunteer Positions

San Francisco

Cooking Matters for Kids 
3:30 - 5pm* Thursdays November 3 - December 15 (skip Nov 24nd) 5 weeks
Jose Ortega Elementary School 400 Sargent St, San Francisco, CA 94132
All positions filled

Cooking Matters for Kids 
4 - 5:15pm* Tuesdays November 1 - December 13 (skip Nov 22nd) *5 weeks
West Portal Elementary School 5 Lenox Way, San Francisco, CA 94127
All positions filled

Cooking Matters for Kids 
3:30 - 5pm* Tuesdays November 1st - December 13 (skip Nov 22nd) 5 weeks
Sheridan Elementary School  431 Capitol Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112
All positions filled

Cooking Matters for Kids
4:30 - 6pm* Thursdays October 27 - Dec 8 (skip nov 24) 
Mission Preparatory School 1050 York St, San Francisco, CA 94110
All positions filled 

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
All positions filled

Cooking Matters for Teens
Wednesdays November 2 - December 14 (skip nov 23) 12:30 - 2pm 
John O'Connell High School 2355 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110
All positions filled 

Cooking Matters for Adults 
1:30 - 3pm* Thursdays, November 3nd - December 8th (skip nov 24)
Kain Na (food bank) with Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation 1340 4th St. San Francisco, CA 94158
All positions filled

Cooking Matters for Kids
2 - 3pm* Tuesdays Tuesdays Nov 29, Dec 6, Dec 13, Jan 10th, Jan 17th, Jan 24th
Bayshore Elementary School, 155 Oriente St, Daly City, CA 94014
Cooking Instructor needed

Cooking Matters for Kids
10:30 am - 12 pm* Tuesdays Jan 17 - Feb 28th 
Lee Newcomer School 657 Merchant St, San Francisco, CA 
Cooking Instructor needed, Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Adults
11 - 1pm* Thursdays January 19th - Feburay 23rd 2023
Dignity Health, 2235 Hayes St #5, San Francisco, CA 94117
Cooking Instructor needed

Cooking Matters for Kids
12- 1:30pm* Thursdays January 19th - Feburay 23rd 2023
Hillcrest Elementary School, 810 Silver Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134
Cooking Instructor needed, Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Teens
4 - 5:30pm* Tuesdays January 24th - March 2nd 2023 (Skip Feb 22) 
KIPP Bayview Academy, 1060 Key Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124
Cooking Instructor needed, Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Teens
10:30am - 12pm* Tuesdays January 31- March 7th
Balboa High School, 1000 Cayuga Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112
Cooking Instructor needed, Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Adults
11 - 1pm* Thursdays February 1 - March 9th
Booker T. Washington Community Service Center, 800 Presidio Ave, San Francisco, CA 94115
Cooking Instructor needed, Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Teens
4:45 - 6:15pm* Wednesdays February 15- March 22 2023
College Track, 4301 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94124
Cooking Instructor needed, Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant needed 
 

Alameda County 

Cooking Matters for Teens
12:30-1:50pm* Wednesdays, November 2 - December 7 (5-week series) 
ARISE High School, 3301 E. 12th Street., Unit 205, Oakland, CA 94601
Cooking Instructor needed, Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Teens
3:00-4:15pm* Tuesdays, November 11 - December 13 (Skip November 22)
Lincoln High School, 2600 Teagarden St, San Leandro, CA 94577
No positions available

Cooking Matters for Adults
1:00-3:00pm* Thursdays, November 17 - December 15 (4-week series) 
Casa Ubuntu, 7200 Bancroft Ave, Oakland, CA 94605
Cooking Instructor needed, Nutrition Instructor needed, Class Assistant Needed

Contra Costa  
Cooking Matters for Teens
5:00 - 6:30pm* Thursdays, November 10 - December 22 (no class Nov. 24) 
YES Nature to Neighborhoods 3029 Macdonald Ave, Richmond, CA 94804
All positions filled

One-time Cooking Matters for Kids 
3:30 - 5:30pm*, Friday December 2 
Lakeside Apartments, 1897 Oakmead Dr, Concord, CA 94520
All positions filled

Cooking Matters para Padres (Spanish)
12:00 - 2:00pm*Tuesdays, January 10 - February 14
East County First Five, 

355 E Leland Rd, Pittsburg, CA 94565
Class Assistant needed (it's okay if you don't speak Spanish for this role!) 

Cooking Matters for Families 
4:30 - 6:30pm*, Thursdays January 12 - February 9 (5-week series)
Rocketship Futuro Academy,  2351 Olivera Rd, Concord, CA 94520
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Families 
3:30 - 5:30pm* Fridays, January 13 - February 17 
Garden Park Apartments, 387 Lisa Ln, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Families 
3:30 - 5:30pm*, Fridays, January 13 - February 17 
Garden Park Apartments, 387 Lisa Ln, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Adults 
11:30 - 1:30pm*, Wednesdays, January 18 - February 22 
Native American Health Center, 2566 Macdonald Ave, Richmond, CA 94804
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Parents
9:00 - 11:00am* Wednesdays, January 18 - February 15 (5 weeks) 
Bayview Elementary, 3001 16th St, San Pablo, CA 94806
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters para Padres (Spanish)
11:00am - 1:00pm* Wednesdays, January 18 - February 15 (5 weeks) 
Verde Elementary, 

2000 Giaramita St, Richmond, CA 94801
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters for Adults 
9:30 - 11:30am* Tuesdays, February 7 - March 14 
Hillview Junior High School,  333 Yosemite Dr, Pittsburg, CA 94565
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters para Adultos (Spanish
9:30 - 11:30am* Wednesdays, February 8 - March 15 
Hillview Junior High School,  333 Yosemite Dr, Pittsburg, CA 94565
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Cooking Matters para Padres (Spanish
9:00 - 11:00am* Wednesdays, March 1 - March 29 (5 weeks) 
Bayview Elementary, 

3001 16th St, San Pablo, CA 94806
Cooking Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, and Class Assistant needed 

Online Volunteer Positions

No online positions currently available 

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. 

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.

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. If you need support around transportation, please reach out. 

Volunteer Benefits

We love our volunteers! In addition to creating and empowering community through food, volunteers receive a complimentary 18 Reasons membership, 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!