I recently posted photos from a fundraiser event for CUESA, the nonprofit I'm involved in. Some people asked me why I volunteer my time on a nonprofit board, so I thought I'd answer that here, with a copy of the remarks I gave at the fundraiser gala.
I serve as board chair of CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) because I enjoy using my professional skills to support an organization whose mission is important to me. CUESA is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs, and is best known for running the widely acclaimed Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Last month, we had a meeting in which board members were asked to describe what CUESA means to each of us using only six words. Here are mine:
Food isn't optional. Make it count.
What I mean by the first sentence, is that people need to eat. Every day. What I mean by "make it count" is that the choices we make about what we put on our plate have broad consequences. So, for those of us that have the privilege of choosing how we spend our time and money, the choices we make are important.
I shop the farmers market so I can talk to the farmers, chat with other shoppers, spend time by the Bay with my kids, touch and choose my own food, support the local economy, and reduce the carbon footprint of what’s on my plate. And also because the produce from the market is fresh and utterly delicious.
I volunteer my time on the board because I want to be a part of this community. I want to help foster a community that helps others, like the chefs, food runners and farmers have done in the wake of the Sonoma & Napa fires. This incredible and resilient community does excellent work, growing the world we want to see.
I donate money to CUESA’s educational programming because the work that CUESA is doing with the next generation is valuable and important. I often shop the market on Tuesday afternoons so I can see the Foodwise Kids programming in action. I love to sit at the picnic tables by the market kitchen and watch the elementary school kids talk to farmers, pick out and prepare produce, excitedly eat and chatter about their good work, and yell THANK YOU to the farmers. It brings me so much joy and hope to see kids delighted by opening and eating shelling peas right out of the pod, or about the simple joy of tasting a perfectly ripe peach.
Food connects us to the earth and to each other. We need that community now more than ever, and creating that community both for now and for future generations is exactly what CUESA does. CUESA supports the farmers that grow the food, hosts markets that offer both great food and a place for the community to come together, and programming to empower the next generation of healthy eaters. I support CUESA because food isn’t optional. So make it count!