Here’s How Just One Classroom Assistant Makes a Difference

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Aug 22, 2013 No Comments ›› Melissa Graham

As a nearly-all volunteer run non-profit, our volunteers are the lifeblood of our work. They make things happen for Chicago children’s food and cooking education, every day. From leading Delicious Nutritious Adventures in Chicago Public Schools to fundraising for these programs – and everything in between! Check out what Carrie Laski, one of our classroom assistants, is doing to inspire Chicago children to cook and eat healthy:

1) How would you describe your role within Purple Asparagus?

I assisted in classrooms with the Delicious Nutritious Adventures crew and helped Melissa with a cooking class we did with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

2) How did you first find out about Purple Asparagus? Why did you decide to volunteer with us?

I first heard about Purple Asparagus when I was on the CLOCC (Coalition to Lower Obesity in Chicago’s Children) website.  I’ve always been passionate about food (good food!) and all it can do for people, and wanted to get involved in the healthy food movement.  I love working with children, so when I came across Purple Asparagus I knew I had to reach out.  It seemed to be exactly the organization I would have created if I could.

3) What are your most memorable moments (and/or accomplishments) volunteering with us?

One of my first outings with Delicious Nutritious Adventures was during the “legumes” month.  I was nervous because the thought of getting five-year-olds to eat chickpeas and lentils was daunting.  “Why couldn’t I have started during the chocolate lesson?!” I wondered as I assembled edamame on plates.  But the kids surprised me by how enthusiastic they were!  They tried everything, and even if they didn’t care for it they kept good humor.  It was awesome to watch them discover new favorite foods.

4) What are some of your favorite things about Purple Asparagus? About volunteering with us?

I love that Purple Asparagus makes healthy eating fun and easy.  People, many of them children, often think nutritious food is tasteless and inaccessible.  I enjoy being a part of the Purple Asparagus team because I want to change those opinions.  I also love that Purple Asparagus is bringing the social component back to eating.  In my opinion, food is meant to be enjoyed with others, not consumed in solitude.  I grew up in a family that gathered at the dinner table every single night, and I hope to help increase this activity in the families I encounter.

5) What are some hobbies or other work you’re doing that you’d like to share?

Besides volunteering with Purple Asparagus I am taking classes to work towards a Master’s degree in nutrition.  I hope to work in the public health world as an advocate for healthy eating and chronic disease prevention.  In my free time I adore trying new restaurants and experimenting (sometimes successfully, sometimes not!) with recipes in my own kitchen.  I blog about these experiences at thehungryninja.com.


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