Reflections from Kwadwo Kumi-Amankwah, Leah's Pantry Fall Intern 2015

I started my internship with Leah's Pantry as part of my health education program at San Francisco State University. I chose Leah's Pantry because I was interested in doing something nutrition focused. I have been interested in nutrition for quite some time. Yet I had never spent any real time studying it in school. So Leah's Pantry became a great option for me. My work at Leah's Pantry involved various office work. I also assisted in nutrition workshop preparation, and went to many events. I really learned quite a bit through my short time at Leah's Pantry.

Leah's Pantry workshop settings allowed me to see education from a new perspective. I traditionally have only seen workshops or classes related to college students. At Leah's Pantry I got to see and be part of workshops with different populations. The workshop populations I saw included children, seniors, re-entry, and SRO residents. This was very important to me as a health education student. Working with such groups was new to me. I also got to see how much healthy/positive environments impact the effectiveness of education.  It really highlighted the importance of multi-faceted community building for me.

Over time I noticed how complete and well organized Leah's Pantry's workshops are. Participants leave with new skills,  recipes, workbooks, and a very comprehensive cooking kit. It's a perfect application of the many health education theories I had learned about in school. Leah's Pantry staff are also very skilled educators. They're all relatable, caring, yet passionate, knowledgeable, and strong communicators. They lead workshops in a very informative yet friendly, personal, and enjoyable manner.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a number of events as well. One of my favorites was the San Francisco Food Security Task Force SRO food survey meeting. I've typically taken my own food access for granted. But after that meeting I could really see the different layers of advantages I have, and the different layers of work needed to improve access for others. I would say that my understanding of the term access has really evolved. Now I can see access in terms deeper than just finance, but also in skills, tools, mobility and more.  I had a similar experience assisting in some online nutrition curriculum testing for Leah’s Pantry. There are many subtle computer skills that I take for granted as a college student. Little things such as making emails can be huge barriers of access for some people.     

I really feel like the work Leah's Pantry does makes a difference for people. People really appreciate these workshops. I see this as part of the greater framework of uplifting people as a whole. My time with Leah's Pantry has really helped me see that relationship between food and community. The staff have also been very welcoming, friendly and helpful to me through this whole experience. I would highly recommend Leah's Pantry for any other aspiring nutrition, cooking, health education students.

Note from Leah's Pantry Staff: Kwadwo, we will miss you! Your aptitude, positivity, and hunger for knowledge (and good food!) have been a significant asset for us over the past few months. Good luck with your last semester at school!