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Food Inspired Resilience & Equity Internship

Photo above: Fall 2023 – Spring 2024 FIRE interns at their final celebration. 

Community-based food organizations and students work together on local food, community, and equity work. 


2024 - 2025 FIRE Student Interns


“This program gave me the opportunity to stand out as a storyteller in the food system and to develop my public speaking and community involvement work. I also learned a lot about better understanding the needs of people who face food insecurity and effective ways to make food access more equitable.” 

– Hope Ostane-Baucom, 2023 – 2024 Char-Meck Food Policy Council Intern

*student applications will open July 1st, 2024

FIRE Intern Applications open July 1st

*Complete this interest form to be directly emailed when the application is open 

We are looking for seven interns to join the 2024 – 2025 academic year internship program.

Hosted by CEFS, Community Food Strategies, and the North Carolina Local Food Council, the FIRE program connects interns with community-based food organizations across the state to support their work to build a more resilient and equitable food system . Throughout the year, interns will be paid to 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.

Student Benefits:

  • Hands-on practical work experience 
  • Ability to use your unique skills and perspectives to support community-based food organizations
  • In-depth, on-the-ground learning of local food and parts of the food system via the internship and the CEFS professional development programming 
  • $16 per hour paid internship 
  • Fulfill student work hours or internship requirements

Student Qualifications:

  • Enrolled in any kind of accredited institution of higher education in North Carolina

  • Able to discuss and connect how their major and personal or professional experiences relate to local food systems.

  • Able to commit to program from September 2024 through April 2025

  • Able to work approximately 15 hours per week.

2023 - 2024 FIRE Host Sites 


“Long-term, this internship is creating a stronger link between WCU and WNC Farm to Table and is including a focus on food insecurity issues on campus.” 

– Lisa McBride, 2023 – 2024 WNC Farm to Table Host Site


The Eva Clayton Rural Food Institute is much stronger because of (our interns) work with us. She was eager to learn and share her skills with a young start-up organization. . . She was a gift to our Advisory Council members, who looked to her to keep them organized and accountable. . . (Our interns) contributions were diverse and impactful. She supported our website development, conducted thorough research on the counties in our service area, facilitated calls with our elected officials, and even lent a hand with the food set-up. I’ve shared with (our intern) that she is a part of our founding history!” 

– Lisa McBride, 2023 – 2024 WNC Farm to Table Host Site


FIRE Host Site Applications are now OPEN!

Any interested food council, food policy council, community-based food coalition or coalition dedicated to promoting more resilient and equitable food systems can apply to be a host site by completing this application by Monday, June 3rd.

Host Site qualifications:

Host Site benefits:

  • Paid intern to add to your capacity
  • Admin and hiring support such as promotion, interviewing and hiring, administrative needs, and professional development
  • Inside perspective from younger generation on equity and local foods
  • Provide mentorship and beneficial work experience for future entrepreneurs and leaders
  • $1,000 stipend to support participation in meetings and travel

Host Site agreements:

  • Sign Partnership Agreement
  • Attend virtual, half-day host site orientation (week of July 8th)
  • Create a scope of work for the intern that includes the completion of one project that supports equitable food systems and describes the regular tasks that they expect an intern to complete
  • Participate in intern candidate interviews (week of Aug 26th 2023)
  • Provide a mentor for the intern to offer direct supervision, guidance, accountability, and support
  • Communicate with intern coordinator to provide monthly updates about student intern performance and/or to address emerging needs
  • Participate in host site cohort calls that are offered once per semester (2 in total)
  • Attend in-person intern final presentations and celebration event
  • Complete an end-of-year evaluation of the program for future improvements

Prioritized projects:

  1. Local Farmer Support
  2. Food Access
  3. Community Engagement
  4. Policy & Advocacy
  5. Increasing Impact & Strategic Planning

The student interns may assist with projects that support your work, including and not limited to:

  • Researching issues, policies, communications, and practices around local food and health equity work
  • Coordinating community food-based project  meetings with agendas, communication, and facilitation
  • Establishing/increasing an online or social media presence and using analytics to strengthen an online presence
  • Writing educational and promotional materials for community distribution
  • Assisting with program coordination and logistics
  • Researching and supporting funder/donor and other revenue opportunities
  • Developing and maintaining community partnerships

Criteria used for selecting host sites:

  • Has a clear scope of work that is appropriate for a FIRE intern
  • Degree to which scope of work engages systems change and equity
  • Degree to which the host site could continue their work without an intern
  • Preference given to organization that did not have a FIRE intern in the last year
  • Preference given to organizations with  BIPOC leadership
  • Preference given to organizations in a rural location

2023-2024 FIRE Internship Overview

Learn about the 2023 – 2024 FIRE cohort here.


Learn about the 2022 – 2023 FIRE cohort here.


Learn about the Spring 2022 FIRE pilot internship here



  • The purpose of this program is to expand the capacity of local food-based organizations, that are dedicated to promoting more resilient and equitable food systems, across the state by pairing them with paid college student interns. We pair unique student skill sets (such as social media, marketing, and experience with online platforms) to match the needs of host local food organizations. In addition, we cover the salary of the student interns and program logistics, such as recruiting and hiring. In return host sites provide impactful experiences and hands-on skill building related to food systems and equity work for college students.

Potential Projects:

The student interns may assist  with projects that support host sites 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

Community Food Strategies, North Carolina Local Food Council, and Center for Environmental Farming Systems agrees to:

  • Manage the intern administration, including hiring, tracking hours, and payment
  • Provide an internship orientation for host sites and new interns
  • Hold monthly check-ins with each intern and bi-weekly cohort calls for group learning and professional development
  • Coordinate monthly check-ins with intern host sites, as appropriate, to support student intern performance and/or to address emerging needs
  • Schedule a site visit with each host site accompanied by the host-site intern
  • Coordinate one end-of-year intern presentation event to share successes and lessons learned


  • Host site Applications open May 6th, 2024
  • Host site Applications due June 3rd, 2024
  • Intern Applications open July 1st, 2024  
  • Intern Applications due August 2nd, 2024
  • Interviews week of August 26th, 2024
  • Orientation September 15th, 2024
  • Start date September 20th, 2024
  • End date May 2nd, 2025
FIRE Template
FIRE Template
FIRE Template


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 NC DHHS.


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