Q&A with Carina Gervacio
Brainfood Program Director
How long have you been working with Brainfood, and what motivated you to choose this particular organization?
“I started with Brainfood in 2005 as a part-time employee and was quickly hired full-time. I had always liked cooking and was looking for something more dynamic than the typical nonprofit 9-5. Initially I thought to myself that I would just keep doing this until it was no longer fun, but that moment never came. Ten years later, I’m still here! I’ve worn many hats during my time here.”
How would you describe your current role as program director at Brainfood? What are your typical responsibilities?
“I don’t teach classes anymore. I would describe my current role as kind of like the connector between all of the different spaces that Brainfood has, from the kitchen to the gardens to the sites. I coordinate everything so that there is continuity between what the program is and what the people’s expectations are. I also serve as sort of an organization librarian or archivist… when graduates come back they have all these memories of how things were previously."
What is an experience that has been especially moving to you?
“Brainfood started as just two programs: Brainfood Kitchen All-Stars and the Brainfood Summer Institute. Kids would be coming back year after year, but there was no real change in curriculum, and we wanted to expand the first year experience. We held a focus group with just the students and asked the students about what they wanted more of from us. The overwhelming response was that they wanted the ability to connect people who couldn’t come to Brainfood program with everything that they were learning. They also wanted a community recognition piece, where they could get more feedback from people in the Greater DC area about what they were doing—carving out a space for their voice and celebrating their accomplishments. Community MVP's developed out of that: an external-facing program that reaches outsides our core demographic and gives the students more responsibility, but also gives them a voice and allows them to give back."