Welcome Lauren! AmeriCorps VISTA Local Produce Coordinator



It is officially gardening season here at the Clark County Food Bank! Every day I seem to hear about plant starts growing at Heritage Farms, development in our Learning Garden (more to come on this!), and the enthusiasm of participants in our Seed to Supper classes.

To add to the excitement of warmer temperatures and sunny days is our newest AmeriCorps member, Lauren Krug! Her official title is “AmeriCorps Vista Local Produce Coordinator” and there is a lot that is involved with this position. So, to jump right into it, I will stop chatting and let Lauren answer some questions about what she does and why she is so excited about this position!


lauren photo

Give a brief overview of what you do:

I am working on developing the Farming & Gleaning program at the Clark County Food Bank (CCFB). My goal is to rally enthusiastic, dedicated activists in the community to give back by participating in various projects aimed to achieve local produce acquisition and redistribution to our partnering agencies and their clients. This includes growing our own food to donate to foodbank bank clients as well as developing systems and breaking down barriers to increasing their access to healthy food from other local growers.

What experience and/or knowledge do you bring to facilitating your activities?

Upon graduating from University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Entrepreneurship I interned on a small scale, organic, mixed veggie and berry farm in Mt. Hood-Parkdale, Oregon for the 2014 and 2015 farm seasons to get a hands-on education in sustainable farming practices and small-business ownership/operation. There I led volunteers and assisted the farm owners in key ways (i.e. planning crop rotation, creating seeding and watering schedules, educating volunteers about soil composition and suitable amendments for optimum quality in plant growth). This experience inspired my desire to take on the Farming Coordinator position at Clark Count Food Bank. My goal is to take the knowledge and skills I’ve gained about sustainable farming practices and apply it to the CCFB local produce acquisition efforts to increase both quantity and quality of food going to those in need.

Why were you interested in working with the AmeriCorps program?

I was interested in working with AmeriCorps VISTA to develop my professional skills, challenge my weaknesses, fine tune my strengths and employ my activism and advocacy to promote the local food system movement. I believe growing your own food as well as supporting local growers and producers will systematically improve quality of life for community members resulting in many social, environmental, and economic benefits.

Whenever you are done with your term, how do you think working with at this job will make you a more experienced and knowledgeable individual about the work you plan to pursue in the future?

When I am done with my service term next year, I think/hope I will be extremely well equipped at recruiting volunteers, managing resources, generating support and enthusiasm, and empowering people to be the change they want to see in their community.

Feel free to add in any more information that you think it would be important for others to know about you and why you are excited to work on the program you are focusing on and other projects you plan to work with.

I’m working to develop the Farming & Gleaning program and wanted to get the word out about various upcoming and ongoing volunteer opportunities we have to offer here.

I’m trying to rally a team of 15-20 enthusiastic and dedicated individuals to take on key roles as lead volunteers. I’ve named this team the ‘Farm Squad’. I envision these passionate leaders to be whom I can call on to help with our 3 main projects we plan to focus our energy on this season:

  1. Gleaning produce from farmer’s markets in Vancouver, Camas, and Salmon Creek,
  2. Growing food for our underserved community members at Heritage Farms on 78th Street, and
  3. General spontaneous gleaning projects that pop up around Clark County in people’s gardens, orchards, and farms, especially when local produce is in its stage of highest production.


Sounds fun, yeah!? If you feel inspired to get involved with our Farming and Gleaning program, contact Lauren Krug by emailing farm@clarkcountyfoodbank.org or calling her at (360) 693-0939.


We have been breaking ground here at the Clark County Food Bank – literally! Fun photos, information, and planning details will be coming to you all very soon about our Learning Garden.


Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16


National Nutrition Month



Hey friends of the Clark County Food Bank! How did we get to the middle of March already??

This month has a very special place in the hearts of those of us on the Nutrition Education team at the Food Bank because it is National Nutrition Month! We celebrate nutrition every day of the year as Nutrition Educators, so I thought we could share a few ways you can also celebrate National Nutrition Month:

1) Start up a garden! Now is the perfect time to get your soil tilled, tested, and ready for planting! Our next blog post will be sharing all the dirty details related to getting our garden plots and beds up and running for the season!! For now, you can read our past blog post about the Seed to Supper program.

2) Try out a new recipe. We have a lot of tasty recipes on our recipe index. Find a recipe using a food item you are not familiar with or try cooking with some different flavors to mix things up a bit.

3) Check out how you can get involved! Email us at nutrition@clarkcountyfoodbank.org to see where our volunteer needs are for upcoming classes. If you aren’t involved with our programs yet, give us an email and reserve a spot in our next Nutrition Education orientation (in May)!

Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16

Nutrition Basics: Digestion, Part 2


Up to this point we have learned how food enters the body and then is broken down mechanically and chemically in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach.Now some of the food nutrients are ready to be absorbed into the body or moved further along the digestive tract. Picking back up where we left off, we continue the digestive process at the small intestine.

Small intestine

Mechanical digestion: the same rhythmic, wave-like muscle movements known as peristalsis that moved food down the esophagus also move food through the small intestine.

Chemical digestion: pancreatic enzymes, bile (produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder), and other digestive enzymes break down the food even more. Bile specifically helps in dissolving fats.

At this point most of the food has been broken down into forms which allow it to be absorbed through the small intestine and into the bloodstream to be transported to the cells of the body. The nutrients will be used for energy, building body tissues, or stored for later use!

The Pancreas (special mention)

Insulin is the hormone that is secreted by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels. Eating a well-balanced diet that is low in processed sugars will also help regulate blood sugar levels. If our body either stops making insulin or our cells stop recognizing insulin, the body may become diabetic, meaning our cells are not receiving the nutrient glucose (which is sugar) and therefore blood sugar levels rise and an individual has hyperglycemic episodes. So while the pancreas does not chemically or physically break down nutrients, it does work closely with our digestive system to provide balanced blood sugar levels – which in turn means our cells have energy to do work!

Large intestine/Colon

Water and electrolytes are absorbed from the large intestine into the bloodstream. Most of the nutrients from our food have been absorbed at this point, but what is left from our digested food is combined with other bodily waste (such as dead cells!) and then moved along to the end of the digestive system.

Remember in our “Nutrients” blog post when we talked about Carbohydrates – specifically the complex carbohydrate called fiber? Well this is the part in our digestive system where fiber becomes very important! Fiber helps us to stay full longer after eating and also helps our food “move along” in the digestive tract. What this really means is that it gives our bowel movements consistency and prevents stool from being too hard or too soft. Sorry if that got gross really fast! But that is the nature of talking about our digestive system… What goes in must come out!

Side note: We have microorganisms that live in our large intestine – which is good! They help with the digestion process by protecting against harmful bacteria and creating various vitamins. Recently a lot of research has been conducted in order to understand the microbe environment in our gut and how it relates to many diseases we often do not relate to diet, such as depression.

Rectum and anus

Not to be forgotten are the rectum and anus. The rectum is at the end of our long intestine and it the place that holds our food waste for a short period until it is ready to be excreted. The anus is the body opening of which our food waste exits the body.

So there you go, folks! That is the digestive system from start to finish!

For those reading this blog post still, I want you to realize that this information has been given to you with the hope that you would realize one thing:

Nutrition is life or death.

Nutrition is life or death because what we put into our bodies is literally what we become. The carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and water we ingest will either help to make our bodies stronger and healthier or will work against our bodies by putting stress on the heart, lungs, digestive organs, blood vessels, and all other body tissues.

Nutrition is important because our food is broken down into nutrients at the most microscopic level and those nutrients help to form and fuel the body. This is the most difficult aspect of teaching nutrition because to our human eyes we cannot see this! However, it is very real and believe me, many people have actually witnessed it happening (these people being scientists with very strong microscopes and other devices). Which is why I feel so confident in sharing this information with you all!

So now what???

Now you know the basics of:

1) What nutrients are

2) Why you need those nutrients and

3) How they are broken down and moved throughout our digestive system.

To use this information in your everyday life can be quite simple. A few small changes our Nutrition Education team encourages our class participants to take are:

  • Choose grains that are whole grain – this means looking at the first ingredient in the ingredient list and making sure it is whole grain
  • Choose protein foods and dairy options that are lower in fat content
  • Look at the sugar content of dairy options and beverages and choose those with lower sugar content
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables! (Personal tip: Experiment with fruits and vegetables that are not usually on your plate! Especially when those foods are in season – they will taste the best during this time!)

(Much of this was already stated in our “Nutrients” blog post!)

Next Blog Post…

As Winter turns into Spring we are coming out of hibernation and getting the gardens going! We will be introducing our newest AmeriCorps member and rolling out some really exciting plans for the Spring and Summer gardening programs and projects by the Clark County Food Bank!









Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16

Nutrition Basics: Digestion, Part 1

Our last post about nutrients was a good taste (no pun intended) of how the Nutrition Basics series will continue. All of this information has been said and explained many times and in many places. I have used many online resources to compile this information, from academic websites, blogs by Dietitians, and YouTube videos. All of the resources used are credited and linked at the end of the blog post. My desire for writing this series is to put the science of nutrition into a context which is useful for those who are looking for hunger relief (by receiving food from food pantries) or are helping out to alleviate food insecurity (through volunteering or giving of time/resources in other ways). Both populations can benefit from learning about the basics of nutrition by learning exactly how it is food is composed, reacts in our bodies, and how this relates directly to the foods we consume on a daily basis and the diseases that are related to our food choices.

Digestion Pathway: Mouth, Esophagus, Stomach, Small Intestine (pancreas, liver, and gall bladder involved here), Large Intestine/Colon, Rectum, Anus

digestion pathway


Physical digestion: chewing (aka. mastication) breaks down the food into smaller pieces. Chewing food is a very important signal the body to also break down through chemical digestion in the mouth.

Chemical digestion: breaking down of carbohydrates by the salivary enzyme[1] amylase which is produced by salivary glands. The enzyme lipase begins to chemically digest fats.

The food is then swallowed. At this point, the food that is swallowed is known as a bolus. 


The rhythmic, wave-like muscle movements known as peristalsis move the food down to the stomach.


Physical digestion: the food is churned in the stomach, which helps to further break down the food particles. It also mixes the food bolus with the juices secreted by the stomach (aka. gastric juices).

Chemical digestion: gastric juices have the enzymes pepsin which breaks down proteins and the lipase which breaks down fats. Also hydrochloric acid is secreted by the stomach in order to kill harmful bacteria from the food and makes the food acidic; the food that is partially broken down and mixed with gastric juices is called chyme. This mixture stays in the stomach for several hours before passing into the next digestive organ, the small intestine, where food break down continues and nutrient absorption begins.

Read our blog post next week to learn about the second half of digestion where food digestion continues and nutrient absorption begins!


[1] An enzyme is a substance that speeds up a biochemical reaction

(Click image to view larger)









Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16

Nutrition Education Interactive Map

Before we continue with our “Nutrition Basics” series (next segment will be about digestion!), I wanted to share with our readers a wonderful resource that one of our AmeriCorps Nutrition Educators, Blair Borax, created.

Since becoming AmeriCorps members we have been asked many times to describe what it is we do during our service year. (This was explained in detail in our recent “Nutrition Education Program Highlights” blog series.) We also oftentimes get the question of where we host our classes and other programs. When I answer this question, I usually give a pretty general answer. Blair, however, took on the challenge to map out all of the past and current/upcoming classes that the Nutrition Education program at the Clark County Food Bank hosts in the community. These classes span over the course of at least four years of teaching in Clark County. We are still expanding our reach and making new partnerships each year! The more the community learns about what we do as nutrition educators, the more people we can help to make better choices in feeding themselves and their families.

fork The yellow fork and knife symbol are classes that we have had in the past.

starThe green star are classes that are current or upcoming.

map img

Click here to open up the Interactive Google Map and check out where it is we host our various nutrition education classes and programs.

To understand more about each of our classes featured on the map, you can read these past blog posts:

Cooking Matters (CM) and Cooking Matters at the Store (CMATS)

Growing Healthy Futures (GFH)

Student Nutrition and Cooking (SNAC)

Next week the digestion blog post will be up! We learned in our most recent post what the different types of nutrients are and why we need them. The digestion discussion will go into more detail about how our body breaks down and utilizes food. This really gets into the biology and chemistry of how our body and nutrients interact!

Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16

Nutrition Basics: What are Nutrients?

With the ending of our last blog post series, we are able to begin a new one! We hope you all enjoyed learning about each of our different Nutrition Education programs at the Clark County Food Bank. We will be sure to keep you all in the loop of what’s going on with our many classes and projects as the 2016 year begins. We will have many new Cooking MattersSNAC, and Growing Healthy Futures classes starting. We will also begin to host more events through the Healthy Pantry Project and hope to get the Seed to Supper program started. Like I said, a lot going on!!

This new series is going to focus on the basics of nutrition! This is information that we share with our clients in classes and some bonus information that is important to understanding why nutrition education fits into the mission of the Clark County Food Bank to alleviate hunger and its root causes.

This week is all about nutrients. Fundamentally, nutrition is a combination of chemistry and biology. With that in mind, nutrition can get pretty complex! No worries though; I won’t be teaching you about the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (although I found this cool website that will!). Instead, lets ask and answer the questions of:

  1. What are nutrients?
  2. Why do I need them?

What are nutrients?

Nutrients can be defined as “the substances in food that provides structural or functional components or energy to the body” (University of Utah). To take this concept a step further, we define what an essential nutrient is: a substance that must be obtained from the diet because the body cannot make it in sufficient quantity to meet its needs.

This definition talks about our diet. This use of the word diet refers to the foods that we ingest on a daily basis. There are five categories of nutrients that are considered essential to our body. A basic description is given for each nutrient along with quality food choices, which are better choices because they give our bodies what they need to be healthy.

  1. Carbohydrates: simple (sugars) and complex (starches and fiber). Quality carbohydrate foods include: minimally processed grains such as oats, whole grain breads and pasta, no sugar added dairy, fruits, and vegetables
  2. Protein: the building blocks of proteins are called amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that we must receive from foods. Quality protein sources are: low-fat animal products, such as eggs, fish, skinless poultry, non-fat cheeses and yogurts (especially Greek yogurt); non-animal protein includes beans, nuts, lentils, quinoa, seeds, dark leafy greens, and many other vegetables!
  3. Fat: the fat our bodies need is called unsaturated fat, especially a class of fats called the omega-3 fatty acids, which we must receive from our diet. Quality dietary fat is received by oils from vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, peanuts, and avocados.
  4. Vitamins and minerals: The vitamins our body needs are separated into two groups: Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K; and water soluble vitamins C and vitamin B group. The minerals our body needs are also separated into two groups: macrominerals – calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur; and trace minerals – iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium. We receive many of our vitamins from a diet that has a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables as well as quality protein, grain, and diary sources.
  5. Water: the majority of our bodies is water, so it is definitely essential! Drinking water throughout the day and with meals will ensure that you stay hydrated. We also receive water from our food! Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. (Example: a 150 lb person should drink at least 75 ounces of water).

Now, to answer the even more important question of….

Why do I need nutrients?

We already established that these five categories of nutrients are essential to meet our body’s needs. Now to understand how each nutrient plays a critical role in healthy body function.

  1. Carbohydrates: the primary source of fuel for our bodies. They give us energy to complete our tasks and our brain energy to think and create! Quality carbohydrates give us lasting energy and help us stay full after eating.
  2. Protein: builds muscles and  organs; also repairs and replaces body tissue as we  grow and develop. Remember the amino acid building blocks I talked about? They are broken down from dietary proteins and are rebuilt into body tissues! How cool. Getting low-fat protein ensures we receive those amino acids without getting too many calories that our body cannot use.
  3. Fat: reserve of energy; keeps bones and joints well oiled; protects our organs like a cushion; helps in absorption of some vitamins. See, fat is very important! But fat does carry 2x the calories per gram than proteins or carbohydrates, which is why we need to get the most quality fats we can! Unsaturated (good) fat also helps to lower “bad” cholesterol. Whereas saturated (bad) fat actually raises “bad” cholesterol and can lead to heart disease!
  4. Vitamins and Minerals: support bone health (Calcium and Vitamin D); prevent birth defects (Folic Acid); helps carry oxygen to the whole body by red blood cells (Iron); and so much more!! Each vitamin and mineral plays a very special function. Deficiency in any of them can have serious health effects, especially during prenatal and childhood development.
  5. Water: I already mentioned that it is the major component of our body. Water also helps carry nutrients to all parts of the body. So after our body has digested the carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, and minerals from food, water is there to take the nutrients to where they need to go in order to do their job!

That is a lot of information for one post! We made a little infrographic to help you visual learners. Feel free to save and share.

Essential Nutrients graphic

Nutrition information can get very confusing and complicated, but when it comes down to it we can always come back to the basics of nutrients to determine which foods we need to include in our diet to be healthy and happy.

In our next post we will cover a short anatomy and physiology lesson of how our food is digested! This will help us tie together how important it is we receive quality sources of food.


University of Utah, 2000. NetBiochem Nutrition. http://library.med.utah.edu/NetBiochem/nutrition/lect1/2_1.html

Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16

Nutrition Education Program Highlight: SNAC (Student Nutrition and Cooking)

This is it! Our final Nutrition Education program highlight! It has been such a joy to share with you all what it is we do as Nutrition Educators at the Clark County Food Bank. We have been at CCFB for 3 months now (WOW!) and it has been so exciting to see how much progress and development has happened in this short length of time. A recap of our first quarter of classes:

  • 4 Cooking Matters classes, reaching at least 25 people – some of them being children as we started our very first Cooking Matters for Families class
  • 3 SNAC classes, reaching 19 children/teens
  • 3 gardening workshops, reaching 10 adults and 20 children
  • 4 Fall Fest events at Educational Opportunities for Children and Families (EOCF) Headstarts, reaching 47 adults and 45 children
  • 3 Cooking Matters at the Store classes with EOCF parents, reaching 16 adults
  • 7 Food Bank Fresh taste testings, reaching 606 households
  • 2 Healthy Pantry Project events, reaching 54 individuals
  • 5 other nutrition and cooking classes, reaching 17 teens

That totals to 253 individuals and 606 households served in 3 months!! And we still have a few more classes or events that will happen before December is over with!

I mentioned in the quarter recap a class called SNAC. This stands for Students Nutrition and Cooking. SNAC is a nutrition education curriculum that was created by the Clark County Food Bank to address the needs of teens to develop cooking skills and to learn about healthful eating. This program is a 6-week series that teaches the basics of nutrients and how our bodies use them while providing exciting, hands-on experiences in the kitchen. Christina Fortin is the AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator this year that is leading this program! Read below to see what she has to say about SNAC and where she hopes it goes this upcoming year.


CGJ (4)
Students chopping fruit during a SNAC class

What drew you to focus on this program?

I’ve always enjoyed working with children whether it be babysitting, mentoring, or teaching. I like the relationships you can form with kids. They have this overwhelming youthfulness and their imagination is limitless. Kids have a notorious rep for being picky eaters but I think when they are in a learning environment that puts the cooking into their hands they are very willing to try new things.

What experience and/or knowledge do you bring to facilitating this program?

A handful of my previous jobs have been teaching children and I’ve enjoyed myself with the different groups. Coming from a nutrition background I have led community classes with young children and felt I was able to leave a strong impact with them.

Christina teaching a nutrition and cooking class at the Clark County Food Bank Learning Kitchen

How do you hope to improve and/or expand this program?

I’m looking to move the program forward by gearing it towards two different age groups in order to reach a wider range of kids. When the program was first created in-house the target age was middle school to high school. What we are finding now is a need for younger age group as well.

Additionally, I’m looking to offer three class series each quarter with new partners. Thus far we have established three new partner organizations where SNAC series will start in January.

In a year from now (post-AmeriCorps), how do you think working with this program will make you a more experienced and knowledgeable individual about the work you plan to pursue in the future?

Post-AmeriCorps I am hoping to continue on in public health teaching and facilitating nutrition education. Having the opportunity and space to teach and adapt a curriculum is great training for continuing on. Also having the ability to support the variety of programs that the Clark County Food Bank offers is allowing me to work with a wide age range – from preschoolers to adults.

Christina will also be working alongside Blair to lead the Growing Healthy Futures program teaching 3-5 year olds about nutrition and trying new foods and working in the garden. This program has grown exponentially from 3 partners to 7 over the past few months! These gals will have their hands full in the Spring.

Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16

Film Screening of “A Place at the Table”

A Place At The Table


On Friday, December 4th from 6-8PM the Clark County Food Bank will be hosting a film screening of the documentary “A Place at the Table” at Loowit Brewing (507 Columbia St., Vancouver WA).

This documentary examines what it looks like to be food insecure and then goes a step further to propose that food insecurity can be resolved by addressing one of its root causes: nutrition. Light refreshments will be served and the admission to the event is no cost! So bring a few friends, find a comfortable seat, and watch this film with us. At the end we will have a short discussion of the film content, specifically targeted at  how significant an impact nutrition can have on individuals who are hungry and malnourished.

Call (360) 693-0939 or email nutrition@clarkcountyfoodbank.org with any questions you may have!


Nutrition Education Program Highlight: Cooking Matters

We only have a couple more Nutrition Education Program Highlight blog posts left! This week is about our largest and oldest program, Cooking Matters. While all the Nutrition Educators have been teaching this class during the past few months, our Nutrition Educators Shaelie Harper (interviewed last week) and Shaili Parekh are leading these courses for the year. Don’t even ask how we happened to get two Shaelie/Shaili’s on the Nutrition Education team! Thankfully it doesn’t get too confusing.

Shaili shares with us about her experiences leading Cooking Matters so far and the plans she has for it in the upcoming year.


My program of focus is with Cooking Matters, a national program through the organization Share Our Strengths, whose main goal is to end childhood hunger. Cooking Matters is a 6-week course aimed to teach low-income individuals and families how to cook healthfully while on a budget.

What drew you to focus on this program?

Growing up, I taught myself to cook by watching cooking shows, doing my own researching, and through experimentation (more like lots of trial and error). I grew up loving to channel my creativity through cooking – and in turn I also learned how to adapt, how to be patient, and how to take risks. Although I grew up thinking I was going to be a chef, in college I learned more and more about our broken food system and how it is stacked up against families, making it so much cheaper and easier to eat poorly than to eat healthfully. So many people are never taught how to cook or how to read a nutrition label – things that are becoming more and more necessary to preventing diet-related diseases. For those who are struggling to make ends meet, cooking meals that are nutritious, within their budget, and well-received by their family members can feel like an impossible task. I realized from then on, that I wanted to share my passion for cooking with others in order to improve people’s quality of life. Our cooking classes are completely hands-on and also involve eating our creations together at the end. Because our classes are so fun, it serves as a great platform to engage participants in discussions about nutrition and budgeting. Learning how to cook and how to eat better are two very empowering things, and knowing that clients may use something they learned in class to improve their day to day lives is an amazing feeling.

What experience and/or knowledge do you bring to facilitating this program?

I received my Bachelors of Arts from Arizona State University in May of 2015. Having minored in Nutrition, I feel I have a good grasp on fundamental nutrition concepts. However, I believe that my main area of focus, Anthropology, has taught me so much about the cultural meaning that food can have for so many people and how to be sensitive to people’s unique relationships with food and cooking. In the past, I have taught nutrition classes and created curriculum aimed at newly arrived refugee women through a non-profit called Refugee Focus. There, I learned how to adapt the same nutrition lesson for people who came from very different backgrounds than one another. This skill is something I have found very useful to my current position since we also teach diverse groups of clients that all possess different skill sets.

A candid shot of Shaili P. as she was teaching a Cooking Matters class in the Clark County Food Bank Learning Kitchen.

How do you hope to improve and/or expand this program?

I hope to expand this program by building relationships with local agencies that already serve low-income populations in our community, especially our food pantries who interact directly with those who could benefit the most from classes.

In order to make our classes more accessible, I plan to start hosting more classes that are specifically catered to Spanish speakers, Diabetes patients, veterans, at-risk High Schoolers and other groups of people.

Additionally, I’d like to host more classes in areas of Clark County that don’t typically get reached, such as Salmon Creek, Battle Ground, Camas, etc. Something else we can do is train volunteers from other agencies to teach their own Cooking Matters classes, so we can collectively reach more people, thus having a bigger impact on our community.

I also hope to put systems in place to improve the attendance and retention rate of classes.

In a year from now (post-AmeriCorps), how do you think working with this program will make you a more experienced and knowledgeable individual about the work you plan to pursue in the future?

It’s difficult to describe every single thing I will gain from working to expand and improve this program this year, but I know that taking on this responsibility will help me grow in a number of ways. I hope that by the end, I will become even better at effectively engaging with people, explaining complicated nutrition concepts in a way that is easy to understand, meeting the unique needs of different groups of people, building lasting professional relationships, and being a leader in the community.


Members of a recent Cooking Matters class offered by the Clark County Food Bank Nutrition Education team


Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16

Nutrition Education Program Highlight: Upcoming program – Seed to Supper

This post continues the Nutrition Education Program highlight series we have shared for the past two weeks. AmeriCorps member and Nutrition Educator Shaelie Harper shares about a program called Seed to Supper. While the Clark County Food Bank Nutrition Education team has not yet begun to teach this curriculum, we are hopeful that in the spring (once the garden season begins again!) we will be able to share this wealth of knowledge with you all!

Also, a quick plugin: We have started to put up recipes on our Recipe Index page! This will be a great resource for our pantry leaders to share with clients, but also for our blog readers as they find themselves needing a nutritious, delicious, and budget friendly recipe!

seed to supper

What is your program of focus?

I will be focusing on implementing a new program called “Seed to Supper”, or a variation of it, that was started by Oregon Food Bank. The program will concentrate on teaching community members how to grow their own food on a budget.

What drew you to focus on this program?

I have a passion for agriculture and think that this program can help empower the population that we serve by giving people the knowledge and skills to grow their own food.  Gardening can be a useful tool (as well as a fun one!) for saving money. It is also a great way to get outdoors and reconnect with where your food comes from.

What experience and/or knowledge do you bring to facilitating this program?

I have taken several courses, including receiving my Permaculture Design Certification and an Urban Gardening Certification, as well as interning on a local farm, that has given me extensive experience with growing food. I will also be taking a Master Gardener course through Oregon State University as we start the Seed to Supper program, which will give me more knowledge on gardening in the Pacific Northwest specifically.  I also hold a B.S. in Nutritional Science and have a passion for cooking (and consuming) food, which will help to develop and implement the new cooking and food preservation aspect of the program.

Left to right: AmeriCorps Nutrition Educators Shaelie H. and Blair conducting a taste testing for kids at Heritage Farms
Left to right: AmeriCorps Nutrition Educators Shaelie H. and Blair conducting a taste testing for kids at Heritage Farms

How do you hope to improve and/or expand this program?

The original “Seed to Supper” program is a five week course where participants learn mainly about gardening techniques for 2 hours each week.  However, I would like to take the program a step further and teach the participants how to cook and preserve the food that they grow from their garden.  It will be a more comprehensive program and teach a larger range of skills.

In a year from now (post-AmeriCorps), how do you think working with this program will make you a more experienced and knowledgeable individual about the work you plan to pursue in the future?

Working with this program will give me a wealth of knowledge and experience with gardening in the Pacific Northwest that I do not currently have.  I think it will ultimately deepen my passion for working with my community by providing agricultural and nutrition education.  I would eventually like to own a farm and partner with a non-profit. Facilitating this program will take me one step closer to successfully achieving that dream.

Fruit Valley Community Garden (5)

Blog Post Author: Lauren Cameron, AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator 15-16