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. 

Online Volunteer Role Descriptions
(Cooking Matters at Home)

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. 

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 18th Street Kitchen membership after volunteering for a Cooking Matters series and a 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

3. Submit proof of the COVID-19 Vaccination and valid CA Food Handler card  
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 at Home
10:30am-1:00pm Thursdays, September 30th-October 21st
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Open House
Nutrition Instructor and Chef Instructor needed

Families and Parents

Cooking Matters para Padres (Spanish)
3-4:30pm Tuesdays, August 3rd-24th 
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with West County First 5
Spanish-speaking Nutrition Instructor needed

Cooking Matters at Home
4-5:30pm Tuesday, August 10th
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Rubicon Programs

Cooking Matters at Home
4-5:30pm Tuesday, August 24th
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Rubicon Programs

Cooking Matters at Home
3-4:30pm Wednesdays, September 8th-22nd
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with Pittsburg Unified School District
Nutrition Instructor and Chef Instructor needed

Cooking Matters at Home with Health Meets Food Curriculum
5:30-7:30pm Wednesdays, September 6th-October 20th
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with UCSF Mt. Zion
Chef Instructor needed, Food Distribution Delivery Driver needed

Kids and Teens

Cooking Matters at Home
3-4:30pm Thursdays, July 15th-September 5th
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with College Track SF
 

Cooking Matters at Home
4-6:00pm Wednesdays, August 18th-September 1st
Meeting on Zoom in partnership with City Youth
 

In-Person Volunteer Positions

San Francisco

We do not currently have scheduled in-person programming in this county. Check back soon! 

Alameda County 

We do not currently have scheduled in-person programming in this county. Check back soon! 

Contra Costa 

We do not currently have scheduled in-person programming in this county. Check back soon! 

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.