Like many Americans, you may be starting off 2018 with resolutions to improve your health and wellness, enhance your relationships, or maybe even advance your career. Regardless of your specific goals and resolutions, one way to kick off your own personal and professional growth this new year is to consider spending more time serving our community members and sharing your passion for healthy lifestyles.
The Master Food Volunteer Program is a nutrition-related Cooperative Extension group that provides Virginians across the state with up-to-date, evidenced-based knowledge on food preparation, nutrition, food safety, and physical activity. As Registered Dietitians (RDs), our technical skills and wealth of nutrition knowledge can be of great help to those who have never had formal nutrition education or specific cooking instruction. Continue reading below to find out how and why you should become a Master Food Volunteer (MFV) this year!
WHAT IS IT?
The MFV program is a state-wide program that organizes nutrition-related community service opportunities for volunteers through educational and outreach efforts in the community. By engaging volunteers throughout various geographical areas of Virginia, this program helps the state’s Extension program to reach more Virginians. Examples of event opportunities include health fairs, food demonstrations, grocery store displays, in-school and after-school programs, cooking classes, and more can be found on the MFV webpage.
Prior to volunteering, all participants must complete a 30-hour training course. After the training, volunteers are able to identify opportunities that suit their skills and interests. Each volunteer is asked to reciprocate with 30-hours of service within one year of their training.
WHERE IS IT?
The MFV program continues to expand across the many cities and counties of the state of Virginia. Once participants complete the training program, they work directly with their supervising Cooperative Extension agent to identify volunteer opportunities within their communities.
There are many current and retired RDs that are involved in the MFV program. While anyone that has a love for cooking, nutrition, physical activity, or helping others is encouraged to join, RDs come to the program with expert knowledge on nutrition issues and valuable experience working in a variety of settings.
In addition to performing community service, involvement in MFV can provide opportunities for professional growth. Many MFV volunteers become active in other leadership positions within their communities, such as the local Extension Leadership Councils or other local organizations. Volunteers also have a chance to improve their public speaking, teaching, and networking skills as they become more active in the program. In the past, volunteers have even acquired new skills and knowledge to help start their own business or gain new employment. For example, a recent program volunteer just moved to another state and became a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent.
Whether you are looking to help your community, grow professionally, or both, MFV is a great place to start!
HOW TO JOIN:
For anyone interested in learning more about the availability of the MFV in your area of Virginia, visit the MFV website and fill out the section titled, “please visit our survey”. Within the survey, describe your specific interest, skills, and talents that you think you think would be helpful for the program. The program’s state coordinator, Dr. Melissa Chase, will contact you and refer you to the Cooperative Extension agent in your area of residence so that you can learn more about the training sessions and volunteer opportunities available to you.
For RDs that are interested in volunteering but may not have availability to complete the MFV training, you are still encouraged to contact Dr. Melissa Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about nutrition-related volunteer events or specific training/educational opportunities that my not necessarily require training as a MFV. The program highly welcomes opportunities to collaborate with RDs.
Ali Webster is a current dietetic intern in the Virginia Tech Internship in Nutrition and Dietetics. She previously completed her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition at The Ohio State University. In her free time, she loves exploring parks and neighborhoods around the DC Metro Area and trying to master new food recipes!