Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spotlight Volunteer....City Harvest Chose Me!!!

A few weeks ago I was interviewed for Operation Frontline's Newsletter as a Spotlight Volunteer!!!  Please read my City Harvest interview below:

From The Frontline
Operation Frontline New York City – A Program of Share Our Strength and City Harvest

OFL Chef Raquel Rivera

How did you hear about City Harvest?
I first heard of City Harvest during my externship at Le Bernardin. Chef Ripert has certificates hung up downstairs and he even offered a City Harvest menu.  This made me look into the organization further and I was pleasantly surprised and eager to become a part of it!

There are a lot of other non-profit organizations in New York City, why did you choose City Harvest?
I love the fact that City Harvest offers instant results. When you donate your time, money, or food you know it is going to immediately help a person in need.

What classes have you instructed?
I have done In the Mix and Eating Right and am eager to facilitate or serve as a chef in the Side By Side
series next!

What was your best class experience?
All the classes leave me with a sense of accomplishment. However when I taught In the Mix at the Food and Finance High School I loved the fact that I was teaching teens who were aspiring to be chefs. Being able to be a part of their culinary journey made me feel wonderful. It also made me realize how much I enjoyed teaching others to cook, soon after I began to do teach professionally.

What advice would you give future OFL volunteers?
My advice is to not let the distance or neighborhood discourage you from volunteering. It is true that some of the locations are out of reach but trust in the fact that your travels would be well worth your efforts and may even open you up to a whole new world and perception.

Raquel, your passion for what you do is evident.

Thank You!

City Harvest 575 Eighth Avenue 4th Fl. New York, NY 10018 917.351.8700 www.cityharvest.org

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Act Now! Vote Against Childhood Obesity!

Passionate about nutrition, eating well, keeping your family members healthy?  Concerned about our future?  How about Child Obesity? 

If so, act now and Tell Albany: Pass the Tax on Sugary Sodas &Drinks!

It takes less than 5 minutes.  Together we can make a difference!

Vote with our mouths!

Monday, March 1, 2010

We all have a teacher that has changed our lives forever. For me my kindergarten and 4th Grade teacher would always be one of my alltime favorites. As a chef instructor I could only hope that of the many students I teach, that I serve as someone's favorite.

Recently I completed a City Harvest Upper Room series. An extraorinary team was organized. Melissa a fellow chef, served as the co-facilitator/chef, Dawn was our nutrionist, Dave the Class Manager, Aliyah our support team and I served as the chef and co-facilitator. Together we provided people at the Church in Brooklyn with healthy recipes, nutritional exercies and a fresh view on eating right.

Original I signed up for the class as an opportunity to team up with my friend and co-worker Melissa. At the end I wouldn't have it another way. Every Wednesday we worked together to stress the importance of reading labels, chosing low-sodium products and using new ingredients to create delcious and healthy meals.

While I have a great appreciation for food, every week I looked forward to Dawn's nutritional segment. I wanted to understand labels better, wanted to understand the why's behind the do's and don'ts on what to eat. For instance, I knew it was healthy to eat whole wheat bread, but I didnt understand how important it was until I saw the wheat bread v. white bread demonstration. I knew about saturated fat, but it became vivid after seeing the Blubber Burger exercise. I knew I should incorporate more vegetables, but would never think about making a vegetarian lasagna. It began to make sense and fall into place. I took part of the discussions, not just as an educator, but as soemone who too had questions. I gave feedback and shared with everyone how they inspired me to eat better. And while I am always trying to lose a couple of pounds, I saw this as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. Slowly I began incorporating some of the many things I learned into my life. I noticed that I automatically began looking even closer at food labels, purchased more 100% wheat products, and began eating better and incorporating some of the same ingredients we were introducing to our students like barley, whole wheat lasagna and no salt tomato sauces. I have become more conscious of the amount of salt I use when cooking, and have begun adding more herbs and acids to boast up flavors. I even began carrying a baggie filled with raw almonds, pumpkin seeds and raisins after Dawn thought my salty version needed a change.

All these things are just a few of the things I took away from the series. Moreoverly, I took with me a bunch of new friends, and the memory of students who too seemed affected by our class. We all discussed the little alterations we were making along the weeks, and hopefully these new practices will stick. Together we made a difference and perhaps will be viewed by some of our participants as a favorite or instrumental leader in their learning experience with food.