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Food Genius Naida Enriquez

There are so many fennel fantastic people that support our mission to inspire kids to eat their veggies! We’d like to introduce you to Naida Enriquez, one of the many food geniuses that brings excitement and enthusiasm to our program.

Q: How did you first hear about Food Literacy Center, and what initially drew you to Food Literacy Center’s Food Genius Academy?

A: Shannin Stein took me to a meeting about the FLC restaurant fundraiser.  Shannin and I were working on bringing a monthly farmers market to folks in public housing. I decided to apply for the training so I could partner with agencies that helped families with socioeconomic disadvantages, as my job at SHRA was to link our population with services. I was hoping to eventually get classes for our young folks and families on site. I have always taken the lead with food advocacy and literacy in all my past agencies; teaching the cooking, nutrition and Other related topics. At the time I was also partnering with a Feeding Crane Farm, Sacramento Food Bank, UC Davis and Champions for Change.  

Q: What is one thing that you learned from participating in the academy that has stuck with you?

A: Learning to cook, preserve and conserve food is empowering, to all involved. If you want youth to be engaged, invite them to participate. You will reach more people with a simplified and focused goal. Addressing too many political or extreme values, takes away from the basic goal of encouraging disadvantage youth to simply eat more fruits and vegetables.

Q: What is your favorite memory from participating in the academy?

A: Participating in the summer library programs and the Food and Film Festival events. My final project was fun and I felt engaged and excited.  Also the Food Handlers training was interesting and I participated with my sister. It was my birthday and I got 100% on the test! 

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in participating in the academy?

A: Read the books!

Q: What’s the funniest thing a kid has ever said to you while volunteering in the classroom, community, or library?

A: I can’t remember a specific quote. I do remember teaching my table to use the pomegranate seeds as natural lipstick and the girls were all excitedly painting their lips rouge! My favorite quote is probably recorded on my library response forms.

Q: What is the most out-of-the-box activity you have had to participate in while volunteering for Food Literacy Center? Have you sported a veggie costume yet?

A: Probably serving at the Offal event at Mulvaney’s. I served Balut!

Q: Food Literacy Center’s mission is to inspire kids to eat their vegetables. Why do you believe food literacy education is important in the Sacramento region, specifically teaching low-income youth?

A: Modeling the desired behavior and engaging the targeted population are two successful methods and kids in poverty definitely need support. Many programs teach in a classroom setting, but are not experiential. Adding the activities and food prep and consumption is not only more engaging, but also creates an opportunity for youth to feel a connection with adults in the community. This connection can be fostering resilience and improving the child’s ability for overall success in adulthood.

Q: What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like to prepare it?

A: Jicama with fruit, lime and chili powder.

Q: Was there a vegetable you hated as kid that you now enjoy?

A: Eggplant has never been my favorite, but frying it or preparing babaganoush is a great way to accentuate the positive!

Q: How do you hope to use your Food Genius training to better our local community?

A: I will continue to volunteer as possible in the community, supporting Food Literacy Center, my neighborhood and Sacramento region. I will donate monthly and attend events that benefit Food Literacy Center.

To receive more information about becoming an eggplant enthusiastic Food Literacy Genius, click here!

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