Volunteer in Cooking Matters

Volunteering in CM 101

We have lots of dynamic volunteer opportunities, both online and in-person, available for community-minded helpers passionate about sharing their love of healthy home cooking. 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 CM volunteer.

COVID Update

Since the start of the pandemic we reached our Cooking Matters students through a virtual learning model paired with delivered grocery donations called Cooking Matters at Home. We are actively looking for volunteers who would like to assist in our interactive online cooking classes as well as helping us distribute groceries. We are beginning to transition back to in-person classes and are seeking support from in-person volunteers as well. Please scroll down for more information on how to be a volunteer with Cooking Matters. 

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. 

Cooking Matters Volunteer Role Descriptions
(In-Person)

Cooking Educator Role Description
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. 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 3-4 hours to complete training, we offer 20% off with the code EMPLOYEE20 

Nutrition Educator Role Description
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 3-4 hours to complete training, we offer 20% off with the code EMPLOYEE20 

Class Assistant Role Description
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 3-4 hours to complete training, we offer 20% off with the code EMPLOYEE20 

Food Distribution Delivery Driver 
Support participants receiving their food for the Cooking Matters series, as we are  distributing over 16,500 lbs. of fresh, healthy food to our participants for them to safely attend our virtual classes at no cost to them. If you have access to a car and are seeking an active in-person opportunity, Food Distribution would be a great fit! Volunteers arrive at 18 Reasons to collect Cook-It Kits to distribute to Cooking Matters participants. Volunteers are provided with a delivery route to follow, typically 6-8 stops are made. We welcome volunteers to help on a one-time or recurring basis - we appreciate whatever time you can donate! 
Required to have a valid CA Food Handler Card, the SafeServ certificate costs $15 and takes about 3-4 hours to complete training, we offer 20% off with the code EMPLOYEE20 

Time Commitment

CM classes meet once a week for six weeks.
 Classes are held anytime between 9:00am and 8:00pm, Tuesday-Friday.
 Each week, Cooking Matters classes require a time commitment of two hours 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

As of June 1, 2021 we are requiring our teaching team including our staff, peer health educators, and volunteers to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (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 also earn a complimentary membership to 18 Street Kitchen after 2 series, and 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 volunteer trainings online
Head over to the Cooking Matters website and complete the online trainings and watch all the 18 Reasons online volunteer training videos
Read and review the Volunteer Handbook, including the Gold Standards. 

3. 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. We are able to offer reimbursement for the Food Handler card if needed. 

4. 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. 

5. 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. 

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

Online Volunteer Positions

Adults and Seniors

Cooking Matters for Adults
3:00 - 4:30pm Wednesdays, September 29-November 3rd 
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Contra Costa Health Services 

Cooking Matters para Adultos (Spanish) 
10:00 - 11:30am Thursdays, September 30th- November 4th
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Contra Costa Health Services 

Cooking Matters at Home
10:30am-1:00pm Thursdays, September 30th-October 21st
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Open House

Cooking Matters at Home

9:00am-11:00am Thursdays, October 7 - November 18th (4 week series alternating weeks)
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Berkeley Adult School
Chef Instructor and Nutrition Instructor needed 

Cooking Matters at Home
10:30am-1:00pm Thursdays, November 4th-December 9th
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Open House

Families and Parents

Cooking Matters at Home with Health Meets Food Curriculum
5:30-7:30pm Wednesdays, September 8th-October 20th (SKIP 9/22)
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with UCSF Mt. Zion
Food Distribution Delivery Driver needed

Cooking Matters at Home
5:30pm-7:30pm Wednesdays, September 29th-October 20th
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Children's Council

Cooking Matters for Parents

10:00am-12:00pm Wednesdays, November 10-December 14th
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Monument First Five 
Chef Instructor Needed 

Kids and Teens

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 Kids
5:00-6:30pm* Tuesdays, September 14th- October 19th 
Longfellow Elementary School 755 Morse St. San Francisco, CA

Cooking Matters for Kids
11:00-1:00pm* Wednesdays, September 29th-October 27th 
The Arc Program Mission High School 3750 18th St. San Francisco, CA
Class Assistant Needed

Cooking Matters for Kids
5:00-6:30pm* Thursdays, October 7th- November 18th (skip 11/11)
Longfellow Elementary  755 Morse St. San Francisco, CA
Nutrition Instructor, Class Assistant

Cooking Matters for Kids
5:00-6:30pm* Fridays, October 8th- November 12th 
Longfellow Elementary  755 Morse St. San Francisco, CA
Nutrition Instructor, Class Assistant

Cooking Matters for Kids
11:00-1:00pm* Wednesdays, November 3rd-December 8th 
The Arc Program Mission High School 3750 18th St. San Francisco, CA
Chef Instructor, Nutrition Instructor 

Alameda County 

Cooking Matters for Teens 
4:00 - 5:15pm* Tuesdays September 28th - November 2nd 
Lincoln High School 2600 Teagarden St, San Leandro, CA 94577
Chef Instructor, Nutrition Instructor 

Cooking Matters for Kids 
2:45 - 3:45pm* Wednesdays October 6th - November 10th 
John Muir Elementary School 2995 Claremont Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
Chef Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, Class Assistant

Cooking Matters for Kids 
4:15 - 5:45pm* Tuesdays October 5th - November 9th
Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618
Chef Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, Class Assistant

Cooking Matters for Kids 
4:00 - 5:00 pm* Wednesdays October 6th - November 10th
Aurum Preparatory Academy, 1034 66th Ave, Oakland, CA 94621
Chef Instructor, Nutrition Instructor, Class Assistant

Contra Costa  

Cooking Matters for Teens 
3:30-5:00pm* Fridays, September 24th - October 15th 
Kennedy High School, 4300 Cutting Blvd., Richmond, CA 

Cooking Matters For Families
5:00-7:00pm* Tuesdays, October 5th-November 9th
San Pablo Community Center, 2450 Rd 20, San Pablo, CA
Nutrition Instructor and Class Assistant needed

Cooking Matters Para Familias (SPANISH)
5:00-7:00pm* Wednesdays, November 16th - December 14th
San Pablo Community Center, 2450 Rd 20, San Pablo, CA
Spanish speaking Nutrition Instructor and Class Assistant needed

Cooking Matters for Teens 
3:40-5:10pm* Thursdays, October 14 - November 18th 
Richmond High School,1250 23rd St., Richmond, CA
Chef Instructor, Nutrition Instructor 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.