Food Inspired Resilience & Equity Internship
Photo above: Spring 2022 FIRE interns and food council hosts at their final celebration.
Food councils and students working together on local food, community, and equity work.
We’re looking for six students to join the 2022-2023 FIRE internship program.
Hosted by CEFS, Community Food Strategies, and the North Carolina Local Food Council, the FIRE program connects interns with local food councils across the state to support the food councils’ community and equity work. Throughout the year, interns will assist and manage various projects, including research, meeting facilitation, logistical support, and communications, as well as other tasks that align with the host’s needs and the intern’s interests.
In addition to valuable technical skills, interns can expect to learn about grassroots food initiatives, cultivate meaningful relationships with mentors and community members, and engage with and uplift their communities.
“I gained a greater sense of humility regarding my own efforts and role, and appreciation for the work that has happened and continues to happen in communities of need.”
Charles Robinette, Past 2022 Intern, Charlotte Mecklenberg Food Policy Council
To learn about other interns’ FIRE experiences, check out our 2022 FIRE Program Report.
Eligibility: Students currently enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree program at any North Carolina university, college, or community college across the state, or students that have recently graduated from one (within the last 6 months).
2022-2023 FIRE Host Sites
- What is a food council?
Food councils are groups of cross-sector organizations that help promote more resilient food systems. They identify and strengthen connections between food, health, natural resource protection, economic development, and production agriculture. Using this cross-sector approach, food councils solve broad food system issues and give communities more control over the food they consume.
Participating food councils include:
Capital Area Food Network (CAFN) (Wake County)
Capital Area Food Network is a community-led non-profit of Wake County citizens and organizations working together to support, sustain, and improve our local food system. We always welcome new voices and members interested in helping reach our mission: To cultivate healthy individuals, communities, and economies through vibrant food and farm systems.
CAFN is organized into multiple circles that each take on a different part of the food system: food access and security, farm advocacy, food recovery, communications, economic development, and racial equity. These individual circles are connected through our Coordinating Circle, a central group that helps set overall strategy and direction. Our structure is based on principles of dynamic governance, and there is always room for new members and focus areas.
Intern projects and responsibilities include:
- Communications, including updating the website and monthly emails to all CAFN membership; some social media;
- Research, data collection, project outreach support for Living Wage certification program, BIPOC farmer and food business outreach;
- Documentation, materials preparation, creative writing (e.g. articles, stories, etc.).
Open to both in-person and virtual. Virtual is preferred.
Rutherford County Food Network (Rutherford County)
The Rutherford County Food Network is currently undergoing a strategic visioning and planning process. We are a relatively new council that is multi-organizational and we are working through our missioning and visioning process from 2021. For 2022, we are looking to focus on community engagement and educational outreach about the food system through activities such as listening sessions, surveys and educational presentations across Rutherford County. Throughout and from this process, we hope to determine our strategic priorities for our council, create subsequent working groups and formalize the structure of our council as we engage with our community and determine our priorities for 2022 and beyond. We currently have two co-facilitators whom the intern would be working with on these efforts.
Intern projects and responsibilities include: maintaining council website; conducting data analysis from focus groups and surveys; assisting with food system projects and development of working groups; assisting with planning and outreach for our November racial equity in the food system community workshop.
Open to both in-person and virtual. In-person is preferred.
Island CultureZ (Winston Salem)
Island CultureZ is a community-driven development hub for building back community wealth in historically neglected and excluded communities in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We do this by working together in cooperative ways to create viable worker-owned jobs, increase market access and market alternatives, build back land ownership, build democratic community-control, and restore community health through the fertile economic avenues of local food & agriculture. We are pursuing equity through land access, healthy food, democratic control, transparency, & grassroots organizing. Our mission is: Nurturing Community Self-Reliance Through Working In Unison To Overcome Poverty & Oppression.
Intern projects and responsibilities include: consolidating funds on our Open Collective platform; helping develop the foundations for a donor program and logistics of that program (types of funds, responses, record-keeping); admin help for the Grassroots Growers coop (meeting minutes & reminders); updating the Urban Agriculture ordinance: begin compiling points to update the existing WSNC Urban Ag ordinance; some grant writing.
Open to both in-person and virtual.
Fort Bragg-Cumberland County Food Policy Council (Cumberland County)
Our vision is to advance health equity and quality of life by creating a healthy food environment where all members of the Fort Bragg and Cumberland County communities can thrive.
Currently the food policy council is working to address WIC/EBT access expansion at local farmers markets, communication efforts pertaining to marketing and social media as well as transportation as it relates to food access and security in Cumberland County. The council members are divided into these 3 ad-hoc groups and will be creating action plans to address these concerns.
Intern projects and responsibilities include: serving as liaison between the food policy council and the health department to meet the needs of the food policy council requests (memos, social media, webpage updates); asissting the council in developing and or executing action plan for ad-hoc committees (WIC/EBT, Transportation, Communications); completing monthly reports to capture the activity completion of the council; participating in community meetings and represent the food policy council as needed.
Open to both in-person and virtual. In-person preferred.
Men & Women United for Youth and Families (MWUYF) (Bladen & Columbus Counties)
Men and Women United for Youth & Families (MWUYF) is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that has been in existence since 2006. Located in Delco NC, MWUYF provides support services to families who reside in Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus Counties. The mission is Empowering People and Strengthening Families through community cooperation.
The project intern will work with MWYUF staff and collaborative partner Communities Connected 4 Success (CC4S) Collective in the goal of creating a multi-county non-profit organization which will address the social drivers of health in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus and surrounding counties. The project intern will also work closely with the Youth Led Food Policy Council and staff in identifying policy issues, providing support to the CC4S Collective, coordinating outreach to youth and families, creating public speaking opportunities and advocating for youth as a CC4S partner.
Intern projects and responsibilities include: networking with farmers and other food councils; some youth interaction; social media coordination; representing MWUYF at collaborative events; other administrative duties.
Open to both in-person and virtual. In-person preferred.
Davidson County Local Food Network (Davidson County)
Davidson County Local Food Network is a group composed of private citizens, representatives from the Health Department, Cooperative extension, businesses, farms governmental and non-governmental organizations who feel the need to make food a priority. We are working towards building an equitable and resilient food system for the health and economic welfare of our community.
When we talk about food, we talk about access to food, food quality, food quantity, food economy, and food waste. Many factors affect the health of a community, and our food system plays a major role. Watch the video below to find out more about food councils around North Carolina. We have three action committees that work on current issues facing Davidson County during the COVID-19 pandemic: Community and Home Gardens; Health Promotion and Access (Food Security and Recovery); and Farm and Food Economy.
Intern projects and responsibilities include: coordinating food council meetings; assisting with social media with our local foods marketing team; assisting with program coordination and logistics (more specifically with a pilot food hub project); assisting in looking at food policies that affect our county.
Open to both in-person and virtual. In-person preferred.
2022-2023 FIRE Internship Overview
- This program will host up to six students or recently graduated student interns, during 2022-2023 Academic Year (September to May), to support local food councils’ community and equity work. These interns will support local food councils across the state with projects like research, meeting facilitation, logistical support, and communications.
The student interns may assist the councils with projects that support food council work, such as:
- Researching issues, policies, communications, and practices around local food and health equity work
- Coordinating food council meetings with agendas, communication, and facilitation
- Establishing/increasing an online or social media presence and using analytics to maintain an online presence
- Writing educational and promotional materials for community distribution
- Assisting with program coordination and logistics
- Researching and supporting funder/donor opportunities
- Developing and maintaining community partnerships
- Interns will be paid $15/hr for approximately up to 15 hrs/wk from late September 2022 to May 1, 2023, with an end of the year break. Interns must be able to commit to working at least 12 hours per week.
- Potential for internship extension based on grant and intern fit.
- Opportunity to connect with and learn from community leaders across the state.
- Ability to support grassroots food initiatives working to uplift their community assets.
Food Council Host Site Responsibilities:
- Must be engaged in the NC Food Council Network
- Create a scope of work for the intern
- Participate in intern candidate interviews
- Provide a supervisor or mentor for the intern for guidance, accountability, and support
- Complete an evaluation of the program for future improvements
Center for Environmental Farming Systems Responsibilities:
- Will manage the intern administration, including hiring, tracking hours, and payment
- Will hold bi-weekly check-ins with each intern and offer bi-weekly cohort calls for group learning and professional development
- Applications open July, 2022
- Applications due August 24, 2022
- Interviews in late August
- Proposed start date September 26, 2022
- End date May 1, 2023
- Enthusiasm for local foods and a respect for health equity work in diverse communities
- Must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree program at any North Carolina university, college, or community college across the state, or have recently graduated in the past six months
- The interns will be chosen based on the communities and local food councils they will serve, as well as student interest and experiences.
Student Preferences: (Specific skills necessary will differ based on internship placement.)
- Must be passionate about local food systems (e.g. food, agriculture, health), are hard-working, self-motivated, and have a positive attitude.
- Ability to take direction, show initiative, and work well in a team as well as independently
- Excellent communication and organizational skills, strong attention to detail, and the ability to be flexible – to adapt to a changing work environment responding to community needs.
- Must be flexible and open to working with multiple mentors (Food Council leaders, CEFS staff, Community Food Strategies staff)
- Experience/study in agriculture or food systems related field, including Biology, Agriculture, Agriculture Business, Public Administration, Recreation, Social Work, Political Science, Health, or Criminal Justice
- Students who:
- Live or attend school in communities in close proximity to the host site organization of their choice
- Are from underrepresented communities
Community Food Strategies works to inspire connections and amplify collective action so that community voices are heard and food policy shifts toward more equitable outcomes.
Our ultimate purpose is to help build an equitable, community driven food system that improves the quality of life for all people. Learn more here.
North Carolina Local Food Council serves as a collaborative network across various organizations, agencies, and groups whose statewide work supports vibrant farmers and fisheries, healthy people, strong communities, thriving local economies, and resilient ecosystems through a common aim: NC’s local food system. Learn more here.
CEFS envisions a future of vibrant farms, resilient ecosystems, strong communities, healthy people, and thriving local economies. CEFS is one of the nation’s most important centers for research, extension, and education in sustainable agriculture and community-based food systems. It is recognized as a national and international leader in the local foods movement, and celebrated for its work in building consensus around policies, programs, and actions that facilitate a vibrant local food economy.
CEFS was born from the shared conviction that a land-grant-university-based research, education, and extension program focused on organic and sustainable agriculture could have a significant and essential impact in North Carolina.
This internship program is financially supported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).