Farm to Early Care and Education Specialist
"I grew up in my grandparents' Chinese restaurant surrounded by the sounds of a bustling dining room and busy kitchen. I'd often walk around and talk to customers as they ate their dinner. Ever since I have known the power food has to connect people," Melanie says.
The realization of food’s connection power stayed with Melanie, forming a deep interest in food and leading her to pursue an education in nutrition and a career as a dietitian. “I wanted kids to know that good, healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad,” she says.
At Groundwork, Melanie’s role as Farm to Early Care and Education Specialist definitely supports that mission. She spreads word of the benefits of serving locally grown foods and farm to school/ECE programming. She manages social media and communications for 10 Cents a Meal and also assists ECE and school communities with building capacity for farm to school/ECE work and participating in 10 Cents a Meal by connecting with a broad spectrum of partners and the public to help them understand the mission and importance of the program.
Looking ahead, Melanie is excited and optimistic that the local food economy will continue to expand, especially in early childhood education settings, where she has focused her career thus far. “I know how important early experiences with healthy foods are, as children form relationships with food,” she says.
For evidence that Melanie held on to the food lessons from her childhood, just look in her fridge. What’s always there? “Hot sauce, endless condiments, eggs, fruit, leafy green vegetables, home-brewed kombucha, and my sourdough starter—Herman,” she says.