Tag Archives: Master Food Volunteers

Welcome New Master Food Volunteers!

On April 22 a group of thirteen new Master Food Volunteers completed their training and will soon begin serving the community by helping to lead cooking and nutrition classes.

The spring 2016 class of Master Food Volunteers completed their training last Friday.

The spring 2016 class of Master Food Volunteers completed their training last Friday.

The volunteers come from Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William Counties. The training was led collaboratively by Jennifer Abel, Nancy Stegon, and Katie Strong, Family and Consumer Sciences agents who cover the above mentioned city and counties. Van Do and Katrida Williams, new SNAP Ed FCS agents who serve Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and Spotsylvania Counties, also helped lead the training.

Volunteers will help to lead nutrition education and cooking classes for groups throughout Northern Virginia. Examples of programs in which they will be involved include: Cooking Matters for Kids classes, SNAP outreach at farmers markets, Chefs Clubs for middle schoolers, healthy cooking classes for senior citizens, food preservation classes, Balanced Living with Diabetes for Spanish speakers, nutrition education at food pantries, and many more.

Trainees offered several comments about what they liked most in the training: “The amazing education as well as educators!” “The ability to participate through hands-on activities, group work, and discussion.” “How science-based it was.”

The new volunteers will join 93 current Master Food Volunteers who have been trained at some point since 2012 when the program began. We welcome the Spring 2016 cohort and look forward to working with them!

Russian Delegation Visits VCE Arlington

At the end of January, VCE Arlington had the pleasure of hosting a delegation from Russia and showing them the valuable work that Extension does in our community. The visit was sponsored by the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Program and funded through a grant that Extension was jointly awarded from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The two day visit was packed with activities.

The visit began with a volunteer showcase where Extension and partner organization volunteers talked about their programs and volunteer experiences. Presentations were given by volunteers and leaders from Master Gardeners, Master Food Volunteers, Master Financial Education Volunteers, Energy Masters, Master Naturalists and 4-H. Hard to believe that all of those organizations are affiliated with VCE Arlington!

After a lunch prepared by our own Master Food Volunteers, our guests visited officials from an important Extension partner, Arlington County, and continued to see Extension in action with a visit to the Save the Earth 4-H Club at Barrett Elementary School.

Saturday’s activities included a visit to see the work done at AFAC where Master Food Volunteers give regular healthy food demonstrations. The agenda continued to be food as they attended a training for the upcoming 4-H Food Challenge. They rounded out the day with a visit to Wakefield High School for the ACE Energy Journey Game.

Our agents and volunteers appreciated the interest and feedback from our Russian visitors and we hope that the visit was a valuable one for them as well.

They are on to further US travels in Ohio and Utah to meet with nonprofits in those states and we wish them safe (and hopefully warmer) travels.

MFEV Bill Guey-Lee talking about his experiences

MFEV Bill Guey-Lee talking about his experiences

Volunteer Showcase

Volunteer Showcase

visit to the Barrett Elem. 4-H Club

visit to the Barrett Elem. 4-H Club

Virginia Cooperative Extension celebrates 100 years, showcases Arlington and Alexandria programs

Volunteers Bill Guey-Lee and Desiree Kaul manage the Master Financial Education display.

Volunteers Bill Guey-Lee and Desiree Kaul manage the Master Financial Education display at Virginia Cooperative Extension’s breakfast showcase at Fairlington Community Center.

Virginia Cooperative Extension‘s breakfast showcase, highlighting Arlington and City of Alexandria programs, made the news.

A few 2014 highlights:

  • Staff and Master Financial Education volunteers started Money Smarts Pay, which combines money management classes with financial coaching to help participants adopt positive financial habits. Extension partnered with Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing and The Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless to offer Money Smarts Pay to affordable housing tenants.
  • Staff and Master Food Volunteers addressed childhood obesity by organizing healthy cooking classes for teens in foster care and low-income teens, and 4-H Food Challenge events.
  • VCE–Arlington, with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, won the national Extension Housing Outreach Award.

Read the full story here.



VCE Nutrition Education Returns to AFAC

The pictures below show Master Food Volunteer Bruce Pittleman who demonstrates on Saturday twice a month to the clients of AFAC (Arlington Food Assistance Center) about the real life saving benefits of finding healthy alternative beverages for the clients’ needs. Bruce shows how many grams of  sugar are in sodas,energy drinks and sport drinks.  Bruce explains that there are tasty, inexpensive beverage alternatives such as cucumber-, lime- or lemon-flavored waters. Bruce feels strongly that making people aware of all the sugars that are in their daily drinks and showing them inexpensive options can help the clients at AFAC to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Bruce at AFAC

Rethink your drink at AFAC

A new twist on an old recipe. Two short-season Ingredients at the Farmers Market. Get them before they’re gone!

By Julie Mendoza, Master Food Volunteer

When you close your eyes and think about early summer foods, what comes to mind first? Strawberries?

If so, I’ll bet you also associate it with a particular dessert. For me, strawberries are my early summer fruit and strawberry shortcake is my first memory (other than sitting in a field and just eating them right off the plant!) The light Angel food cake piled high with berries and whipped cream is a favorite childhood memory.  This summer I’d like to suggest another equally old time favorite dessert as an alternative. I’ve rediscovered a recipe and have made it several times. I’m speaking of Strawberry Rhubarb compote.   It’s so easy to make and is laser sharp in focusing on the ingredients: Strawberries and Rhubarb. In addition to taste, both fruits bring enormous nutritional benefits. They’re rich in B-complex vitamins as well as being high in fiber.  Right now in our farmers markets – boxes of luscious strawberries are for sale. They are the sweetest sun ripened fruit you’ll find in the market this month and as fast as they arrived is as fast as we’ll find the season has ended.  In another few weeks, if we’d like more, our only choice will the local grocery store. So seize the moment and celebrate the season now. The recipe below is an adaptation of one offered by David Lebovitz www.davidlebovitz.com

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

This compote is wonderful by itself in a pretty glass bowl or used as topping on Greek yogurt, ice cream and even Angel Food Cake!

  • 1.5 cups   water
  • 2 pieces of candied ginger, minced fine (wonderful but optional)
  • ½ cup  sugar
  • 1/3 honey (or use additional sugar)
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and, depending on size, cut in half or quartered.
  1. Combine water, sugar and honey in a non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil so the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Add rhubarb and minced candied ginger. Cook over low heat until just tender. Depending on the rhubarb it may be only about five minutes or so.
  3. Remove from heat and add the strawberries.  The strawberries will gently cook as it rests.
  4. Cool and either refrigerate for later enjoyment or serve.

Note: If rhubarb is sold in a different quantity, proportions can be adjusted. Amount of sugar may vary based on the sweetness of particular fruit.

Newly Minted Master Food Volunteers Graduate

During March some 26 trainees gathered each Friday at Fairlington Community Center in Arlington to become Master Food Volunteers (MFV). Participants were treated to a variety of seminars given by a number of Family and Consumer Sciences Agents, with some travelling from as far as Roanoke and Blacksburg, to share their knowledge.  Katie Strong from Arlington and Nancy Stegon from Prince William County led the course, which covered wide-ranging topics including nutrition, physical activity, safe food preparation, shopping on a budget and food allergies.

Cooking lunch was one of the group’s favorite activities each week. Trainees learned how to make nutritious meals, with an emphasis on using whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Instructors guided them on how to follow hygiene and food safety guidelines, right down to the correct way to wash dishes.  Qualified volunteers provided much welcomed assistance during the four weeks of the course.

The trainees were a diverse group, although most seemed to share a strong predilection for quinoa.  After all passing a test and the training hours requirement, the graduates are all set to provide at least thirty volunteer hours over the next year. They will assist with different activities around the region, such as nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and farmers’ market displays.

If you are interested in becoming a MFV, the next training course will take place in Fairfax, starting on October 3, 2014.  See this link for more details http://offices.ext.vt.edu/fairfax/programs/fcs/MFV2014_Alx_Arl_Ffx.pdf



It’s National Volunteer Week! THANK YOU! And How to Get Involved…

This week we celebrate National Volunteer Week.
It is time to say THANK YOU to all our volunteers.
Cooperative Extension relies on volunteers, and we believe that active citizen involvement in our programs ensures success.  The work of volunteers at state and local levels helps leverage our paid faculty and staff resources into a much greater impact and benefit for the people of Virginia.

For Extension Volunteer Stories see http://www.ext.vt.edu/news/centennial-articles/stories/index.html

Get Involved
There are many ways you can get involved as a volunteer with Cooperative Extension to bring your talents and skills to benefit the community.  Some of them are listed below. If you are interested in volunteering, but not sure in what way, contact our offices: Arlington 703 228 6400 and Alexandria 703 746 5546.  Staff will be happy to help you find a way to share your time and talents.

Here’s how to get involved volunteering locally with Cooperative Extension programs:

Arlington and Alexandria Extension Leadership Council (ELC)
The Arlington and Alexandria Extension Leadership Council is composed of interested residents, Cooperative Extension staff, and county and city liaisons who identify community issues and help ensure programs are responsive to real needs. Also, the ELC advocates in support of local programs and staff, and promotes greater awareness of the work of the Extension staff and volunteers.  The ELC meets every two months. If you are interested in joining, please contact the Arlington or Alexandria Extension Office and come to an ELC meeting. ELC 2014 Brochure

.4-H Youth Development
4-H stands for head, heart, hands and health.

DSC01047 - reduced version

Every 4-H program benefits from this integrated approach to civic engagement and hands-on learning – and the dedication and service of caring volunteers.  If you are interested in contributing your time to help further the development of youth in our community, please contact Reggie Morris, 4-H agent for Alexandria rbmorris@vt.edu or Emily Reiersgaard, 4-H agent for Arlington, emilyr@vt.edu

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Master Gardeners
Master Gardeners encourage and promote environmentally sound horticultural practices through sustainable landscape management education and training.
Kirsten picking greens

Here serving Arlington and Alexandria we have the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.  Master Gardeners training will be offered in the fall. For details contact: Agriculture and Natural Resources agent, Kirsten Buhls kbuhls@vt.edu or Arlington’s Interim Master Gardener Coordinator, Jocelyn Yee jyee@arlingtonva.us

Arlington Regional Master Naturalists
The Arlington Regional Master Naturalist program is part of a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. If you’re interested in becoming an Arlington Regional Master Naturalist, go to http://armn.org/contact-us/


Master Food Volunteers
Master Food Volunteers help support Extension’s family and consumer sciences (FCS) agents through education and outreach programs related to food preparation, nutrition, food safety, and physical activity. Contact FCS agent Katie Strong kstrong@vt.edu for information about programs and trainings in the Arlington and Fairfax area.


Arlington Energy Masters http://www.arlingtonenvironment.org/energy/
Arlington’s  innovative Energy Masters program promotes a more energy efficient and sustainable Arlington community. We engage professionally trained volunteers in retrofitting, weatherization, and water conservation techniques serving low-income apartment residents. If you are interested in applying for the 2014-2015 program later this summer, please complete the volunteer interest form.


Master Financial  Educators
Financial volunteers receive a comprehensive training on budgeting, retirement planning, home buying, and many other finance topics, instruction in counseling techniques. Volunteers can choose to help individuals or community groups with financial education programs – including learning to reconcile debts, set goals, budget spending, and organization to improve money management skills. Please contact Jennifer Abel jabel@vt.edu for details of the next training.


Volunteering Counts!
Here is how volunteering counts in Arlington and Alexandria.
In 2012: the Arlington and Alexandria staff and volunteers of Virginia Cooperative Extension reached over 50,000 people with 650+ education programs.  850+ active volunteers contributed over 32, 000 hours. That outreach was conducted with a local office staff of about a dozen people. That’s the power of volunteers!

Interested in volunteering statewide or at national level for Virginia Cooperative Extension? See: http://www.ext.vt.edu/volunteer.html




Master Food Volunteers at the Arlington County Fair

The Arlington County Fair took place on August 9-11 and the Master Food Volunteers (MFVs) played a prominent role in VCE’s exhibit. Thanks to a team of energetic and creative MFVs—Katie Savarese, Holly Rowe, and Julia Schneider—we designed an interactive exhibit full of plenty of things to keep visitors busy. Volunteers chopped up honeylope melons donated by Twin Springs Fruit Farm and allowed visitors to sample them plain or dipped in coconut and lime juice. Visitors also got to make their own salt-free herb and spice mixes by making different combinations of basil, garlic powder, dill, cumin, and oregano. Fair visitors could also test their knowledge by playing the nutrition fact or fiction game, share their favorite food memories, enter a raffle for $25 gift cards, and pick up wallet-size cards with daily nutrition tips.

The lead MFV team was also joined by MFVs Nancy Broff, Kristin Bruce, Aleksandra Damsz, Dorothy Dempsey, Shari Henry, Marney Michalowski and Michal Warshow who put in shifts at the exhibit. Special thanks to our summer intern Carrie Vergel de Dios for creating many of the materials used in the display.

Residents at Carpenter’s Shelter Mix it Up in the Kitchen

Written by Katie Potestio, Master Food Volunteer

Last week participants in the Life Skills class at Carpenter’s Shelter, a homeless shelter in Old Town Alexandria, completed a three week healthy cooking series led by Master Food Volunteers Katie Potestio, Lise Metzger, Kristin Bruce, Desiree Morningstar, Nancy Broff, and Kim Frey. During the first class participants cooked a tasty Latin-style meal of black bean soup accompanied by cornbread and a corn and rice medley. The cooking was truly a team effort with contributions from very experienced cooks as well as novices in the class. In the second session the group whipped up some healthy whole grain breakfast items including banana-walnut oatmeal, applesauce French toast, and breakfast burritos (which included a special burrito-rolling tutorial!). Participants learned to be wary of the often empty “whole grain” claim on the front of food packages and to check the ingredient list on the food label for whole grain ingredients such as whole wheat.

The final session emphasized the longstanding healthy eating recommendation to eat more vegetables and some tips for how to eat a few extra during the day. The volunteers surprised participants with a creative way to fit more veggies in on a hot summer day – in smoothies! Using blenders donated by the community, participants created three delicious fruit smoothies including one green smoothie made with baby spinach. Blended in with fruit and sweetened yogurt the greens add an extra dose of nutrients and a fun color to this refreshing drink. The participants who dared to try the green smoothie agreed that it tasted good and said they would be likely to make it again. Other greens to try in the blender are chard, kale or bok choy. At the end of the night the volunteers surprised the class yet again by raffling off blenders that they had collected from community donations to eight lucky residents! Although making smoothies doesn’t require a recipe, below is the Green Smoothie recipe approved by the residents at Carpenter’s Shelter. Give it a try!

Green Smoothie Recipe   

Servings: 4

2 large oranges, peeled and segmented

1 banana (frozen in slices if possible)

2 cups frozen strawberries

4 cups baby spinach leaves

2 cups vanilla low-fat yogurt

1 cup ice (if bananas are frozen, omit the ice cubes)

½-1 cup liquid such as water, juice or milk (optional)


In a blender, combine oranges, banana, strawberries, spinach, yogurt and ice. Puree until smooth. Add liquid as needed to help with blending. Serve immediately and enjoy!

green smoothie