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18 Reasons & Three Squares Merge to Hatch Formidable Force for Good Food Movement

18 Reasons is merging with Three Squares!

18 Reasons logo


3S logo hi res



We’re joining forces to create one organization that will combine the innovative dirt-to-table education of 18 Reasons with Three Squares’ focus on making fruits, veggies and cooking skills accessible for working families and low-income communities. The combined organization will be called 18 Reasons and be based in the Mission District, but will serve communities across five Bay Area counties.

What is particularly exciting about this merge is that each organization’s programming will not change.  18 Reasons will continue to offer cooking, gardening and food policy education, community dinners, and our weekly 18th Hour café as part of our “18th Street Events” programming track.  In addition, we will now offer Cooking Matters, Three Squares’ nutrition and cooking classes that serve low income communities.  And just like that, we’ve created a unique model to engage eaters, cooks and gardeners of all ages and backgrounds across the Bay Area!

Questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us:

18 Reasons organizational questions: Sarah Nelson, sarah@18reasons.org

Cooking Matters: Sarah Nelson, sarah@18reasons.org

18th Street Events: Michelle McKenzie, michelle@18reasons.org

General info: 415-568-2710  and info@18reasons.org

For a calendar of all of our classes, please visit: www.18reasons.org

Please join us on May 16th at 18th Hour Café, our weekly drop-in cafe featuring wine, beer, and small bites. This week we’re hosting a special 18th Hour so you can meet the staff, board, and volunteers from both organizations. We will be there from 6-10PM making merry and we would love to see you! We also welcome supporters and friends to the annual Cooking Matters brunch on Saturday, May 18th at 11AM at Cesar Chavez Elementary in the Mission, where staff and board members will present the new organization’s vision.

More about Three Squares and Cooking Matters:

Three Squares was founded in 2011 to provide cooking-based nutrition education in low-income communities around the Bay Area, using the nationally-recognized Cooking Matters curriculum. Three Squares also created a community health worker program that trains residents of low-income communities to teach cooking and nutrition in their own communities, thus providing quality, culturally-relevant nutrition education as well as job opportunities. Over 75 community health workers have graduated from the program and gone on to teach; each year, Three Squares reaches nearly 2,000 low-income families.

Moms Deserve More: Surprise her May 12 with an 18 Reasons Class

Done with daffodils? Brunch too boring? Massage a little “meh”?

How about a cooking or gardening class for mom (or for you, so you can cook for her)?

At 18 Reasons, we want people to cook more, so our classes train everyday joes like you and me to cook confidently at home. We want more people to think of cooking as an excuse to gather loved ones and spend some quality time together. These classes are fun, informative, and they make a great gift!

If you know a mom who loves to cook, buy her a seat in one of our classes so she can perfect her buttery tart doughs or up her vegetable prowess. And if your Mom would rather just eat, hone your whisking skills at an 18 Reasons class and give her the gift of home cooking all year long!

Here are some no-fail options for mom or you kids: either way, she’ll be happy!

Wednesday, May 1, 6:30-9PM: Japanese Farm Food

Sample salad you will learn to make with a mandolin at Equipment Essentials on May 13.

Sample salad you will learn to make with a mandolin at Equipment Essentials on May 13.

Sunday, May 12, 4-7PM: Rhubarb Bash

(May 12 is Mother’s Day proper–wouldn’t learning to cook with Mom be an excellent way to spend your evening together?)

Monday May 20, 6:30-8:30PM: Equipment Essentials for the Modern Home Cook

Sunday, June 2, 9, + 16, 4-8PM: Unsung: Neglected Spring Vegetables

Monday, June 10, 6-9PM: Buttery Tart Dough

Our full class list is at www.18reasons.org …. see you soon!

Carrotmob: Funding Scholarships to All Plant Parts Summer Camp


What’s a Carrotmob?

It’s a “buycott” in which people spend money at a business and in exchange, that business takes an action that the people care about.

This week, Carrotmob is helping us create a scholarship program for at-risk and low-income kids to attend our All Plant Parts camp. Here’s the deal: If people buy Carrotmob vouchers to become members of 18 Reasons, we’ll dedicate 100% of the proceeds to fund camp scholarships to help kids learn about nutrition and create healthy meals.

Our 18 Reasons team is partnering with Slow Food SF and the Sanchez School for the second year of All Plant Parts Cooking and Gardening Camp to teach kids about healthy eating. All Plant Parts is an interactive program focusing on the science and art of growing and cooking edible plants. At camp, the kids will get their hands dirty, learning how to harvest veggies from the garden and prepare healthy meals. We’re proud of this partnership with these two organizations and Carrotmob, and think they’re great examples of how many facets of the food system in San Francisco can come together to make a difference.

You can buy a Carrotmob voucher now to become a member of 18 Reasons and help empower young people, regardless of background or financial ability, to learn the importance of eating well. As a member of 18 Reasons, you get access to our community offerings such as tastings and exhibitions by local artists, discounts to classes like beer brewing and cheesemaking, and special perks like gift cards to Bi-Rite Market & Creamery, Tartine Bakery, Pizzeria Delfina, and discounts at Dolores Park Café and other local businesses.

Join us this Thursday, April 4th from 6pm-10pm to celebrate this campaign at 18th Hour, and enjoy an evening of music, art, bites and drinks!

Gifting an Experience Instead of an Ebelskiver

Shak looking "hella cute" in our new 18 Reasons aprons (Olivia's words)

This holiday season, consider giving the cook, gardener, and eater in your life a hands-on experience at 18 Reasons, our community art and event arm, where we teach folks from all skill levels how to feel comfortable cooking at home. This seems more useful to us than an Ebelskiver Pan or whatever else they’ve acquired in holidays past! If there’s a food lover on your list, we have the perfect gift to match their appetite:

Membership:  A year’s worth of discounts to 18 Reasons classes and treats at our supporting businesses. ($35-90, details here)

Aprons: Fresh off the presses, these were hand-printed by a San Francisco artist; the apron is 100% organic cotton, and is adjustable using the trusty sliding strap. Buy yours at Bi-Rite Market or 18 Reasons; all proceeds to go to our youth community work. ($35)

18 Reasons Gift Box: A starter kit for new members to the 18 Reasons community. Available at Bi-Rite Market and 18 Reasons, includes an 18 Reasons apron, 18 Reasons membership, copy of Eat Good Food, and a coupon for 20% off your bill at one 18th Hour Cafe on Thursdays from 6-10. ($100)

Our new 18 Reasons Gift Box

Classes: Hands-on opportunities to grow, cook, and eat delicious food; check out our exciting lineup of January events below and sign your friend up today!

Polenta: The Delicious Economy of Italian Cooking: three part hands-on cooking class all about how to eat well and spend little with our favorite Viola Buitoni (January 6, 8 and 20; $250 for 18 Reasons members; $300 for the general public; tickets here)

Flavor in Spades: learn how to add depth of flavor and a certain je ne sais quois to your cooking (Mondays, January 7, 28 and February 4; $55/65 per class; $150/180 for series; tickets here)

Unsung: Cooking with the Neglected and Beautiful Vegetables of Winter (Sundays, January 13+17 and February 10+24; $110/125 per class; $400/450 for series; tickets here)

Urban Gardening School: Six month edible gardening introduction (Third Wednesday and Saturdays of the month, January-June; Sliding scale: $350-425; tickets here)

Taking Stock: The Eat Good Food Pantry:  two part class on how to create delicious flavor from pantry basics based on Bi-Rite Market’s favorite oils, vinegars, beans, grains, and more. (January 14 and February 11; $100 for 18 Reasons members; $120 for the general public (for both classes); tickets here)

Food Lit Book Club: Read, Eat and Discuss: (Third Sunday of the Month, January-March, 11AM-1PM; $30 for all three sessions; tickets here)

Feeding Your Soul: Mindful Cooking & Eating: (Wednesday, January 16, 7-9PM; $25 member price; $35 general; tickets here)


Cooking in the Outdoor Classroom…with Kaiser’s Support!

One of the most pressing issues facing our children and communities today is the obesity epidemic.   In San Francisco, as in other areas throughout the country, the obesity epidemic disproportionately impacts low-income communities. Among low-income San Francisco youth ages 5-19, 43% are overweight or obese according to the San Francisco Childhood Obesity Task Force.  The city’s Latino and African American children have the highest rates of obesity, at 28.3% and 24.6% respectively. Furthermore, in San Francisco, only 25% of kids eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, as reported by the 2009 California Health Interview Survey.

We believe that we can change these statistics, and with Kaiser’s support, we are going to put our beliefs into action.

18 Reasons is honored to be part of Education Outside’s Grounds for Healthy Kids Project, which just won a $20,000 grant from Kaiser Foundation Hospitals! Over the past year, we have developed a cooking and gardening curriculum together called Cooking the Common Core, which we can now fully implement in ten San Francisco Unified School District elementary schools , thanks to this support from KFH. We couldn’t be more excited!!

Launched in Spring 2012 in partnership with 18 Reasons, Cooking the Common Core is the first SFUSD teacher training series to promote garden-based cooking in order to inspire kids to prepare and eat healthy food.  This new garden-based cooking series, geared towards 4th and 5th grade teachers and outdoor educators, is focused on using the art and science of cooking to teach the new Common Core academic standards.  As we have discovered, cooking is a fun and creative way to bring subjects such as math to life for students and teachers in their green schoolyards, all while instilling a love for growing and preparing healthy food.

The Cooking the Common Core pilot workshops took place in Spring 2012 and were a huge hit among the 48 teacher participants, with 100% of participants reporting increased knowledge of outdoor classroom teaching techniques, ecological concepts, and confidence in implementing the Cooking the Common Core standards-based content.  One participant remarked, “This training was extraordinary!  Great content, inspiring, well-delivered, exceeded my expectations.  I will teach both lessons in the near future.”

In 2013, we look forward to offering three Cooking the Common Core workshops aligned with English language arts and math Common Core Standards, and expect to serve approximately
60 teachers in SFUSD.  We will be serving some of San Francisco’s most under-served children.  The initiative’s target population includes 4,000 students, 200 teachers, and 5,000 parents from the following San Francisco public schools: ER Taylor (Portola); Bret Harte (Bayview-Hunters Pt.); Fairmount (Bernal Heights); Buena Vista/Horace Mann K-8 (Mission); Hillcrest (Excelsior); Jefferson (Inner Sunset); Sanchez (Mission District); New Traditions (Western Addition); Alvarado (Noe Valley); and Sherman Elementary (Marina/Cow Hollow).

I’ll be leading the 2013 workshops along with Joyce Lin- Conrad and Rachel Pringle of Education Outside , who together have more than a decade of experience teaching and developing cooking-related garden programming for youth. Each stand-alone workshop will provide teachers with all of the skills, lesson plans, inspiration, and supplies needed to implement two basic cooking lessons with their students in the garden classroom. At the end of the workshops, each teacher or team of teachers will receive a cooking kit to bring back to their school. The kits will contain the majority of the equipment, tools, and non-perishable supplies needed to execute the outdoor cooking lessons with a class of 20 students. Equipment and tools include a portable stove, cutting boards, knives, vegetable peelers, graters, and mixing bowls.

Want to join in on all this fun? We could use more support for Cooking the Common Core and the rest of our youth programming including culinary career courses at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco,  career readiness mentorship with NextCourse and cooking and gardening summer camps at the Sanchez School.  To donate please click here and thank you!

Teach a Child To Fish: Dinner with Sam & Craig

We’re proud to announce a very special evening in support of 18 Reasons youth programming. From teaching young moms about healthy eating, to creating culinary career opportunities for teens, to teaching SF public school teachers how to Cook the Common Core, we have developed robust initiatives to change the way kids eat, learn, and live. I would love to see you at this dinner, where you can learn more and enjoy a spectacular meal cooked by Sam and Craig.

RSVP today to claim your seat at the table!

If you cannot attend but would like to support 18 Reasons youth programming, you can do so via our fiscal sponsor here. Please make sure to write “18 Reasons” in the designation field.

Thank you!

So You Think You Can Write?

Announcing our 1st annual Edible Story Writing Contest, brought to us by “Take My Word For It!” and 18 Reasons!

You ready (and under age 12)? Here goes:

“Life is just a bowl of cherries”

Rewrite this idiom telling the story of what you think life is just a bowl of (500 word limit)

Please e-mail your story to us at sondra@takemywordforit.net no later than Sept. 8th!

Hard, but tasty, work: Peanut Butter and the Pen at 18 Reasons

Two lucky winners will have their piece published online and will each receive a 50% discount on this Fall’s after-school creative writing class, “Peanut Butter and the Pen”, beginning 9/12. All of the young writers in the class will have the opportunity to share their work at a reading for parents and friends at the end of the session. We also proudly post student writing on our blog. And as an extra perk this year, students will have a chance to read their writing at LitQuake with Anne and Kris from Bi-Rite Creamery! More info on this workshop is available here.

Since 2005, Take My Word for It has been teaching their innovative curriculum in after-school and community-based creative writing programs. Designed especially for young authors, our classes challenge and inspire our students to stretch their imaginations.




Get to know our 18 Reasons’ Instructors: Shakirah “Shak Attack” Simley

Shakirah Simley: Bi-Rite's Community Coordinator, 18 Reasons teacher, Canner-in-Residence...and lover of Edna Lewis and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Name: Shakirah Simley

Occupation: Community Coordinator/Canner-in-Residence, Bi-Rite Family of Businesses

Hometown: Harlem, New York City

What is a dish that you make for a regular Wednesday dinner? Do you want to share the recipe? Whatever’s showing off at the farmer’s market, in colorful, multi-textured salad form. On any given Wednesday in late summer, you’ll find me enjoying creamy burrata, dry-farmed early girl tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and sweet white corn atop little gem lettuces.

When you were a kid what was your favorite thing to eat? Super sour whole dill pickles swimming in a bright green brine (in the pouch!) from the corner bodega. And Mister Softee vanilla soft serve with the requisite rainbow sprinkles.

Who do you admire most in the cooking word (this does not have to be anyone famous. Could be a friend, member of family etc.)? Why? Although she’s no longer with us, I have tremendous respect for the legendary, Edna Lewis – “The Grand Dame of Southern Cooking”. Raised by freed slaves, she grew up to take the culinary world by storm with her style, grace and powerful presence inside and outside the kitchen. Her commitment to freshness and seasonality predate the movement for more sustainable American cuisine, and she brought international attention to genuine Southern cooking. I am constantly inspired by her recipes and techniques and would have loved to meet her.

What’s your favorite part of working with 18 Reasons? I love the folks who come through our doors, with their eagerness to become a part of a more just food system. And Rosie and Olivia are my favorite Dream Team (sorry, 1992 Olympic Men’s Basketball). (18 Reasons:we did not pay her to say this. but we should have.)

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring cook what would it be? If the personal is political, then there is nothing more personal nor political than food. Remember that eating and cooking is an act of empowerment, of choice and engagement.

Where do you like to take friends visiting from out of town? I live in Oakland, so definitely the Marcom Rose Garden and a jaunt around Lake Merritt. To lure friends into their eventual westward exodus, I’m a big fan of The Punchdown for tasty wine flights and warm, knowledgeable  staff, FUSEbox for their inventive, veggie-galore panchan, and Lois the Pie Queen for their chicken and waffles and lemon ice box pie.

What is your favorite park in San Francisco? Buena Vista for its marvelous views of San Francisco (on a clear day, of course)

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? “Love what you do and do what you love” – DJ Jazzy Jeff, “For the Love of the Game”


Join us for Shak’s next class: Capturing the Cusp: Seasonal Preserving for the Practical Cook: Sundays, September 2 and 30, 4-8PM

In this two class preserving series, Shakirah Simley (founder of Slow Jams and Bi-Rite’s Community Coordinator) will teach participants practical applications for capturing fruits in flux. In our “Savoring Summer” class on September 2, Shak will take on peaches, tomatoes and berries, cover an introduction to canning theory, safety and preserving basics, and show you her summer canning secrets for non-runny berry jam and how to tackle tomatoes like a champ. On September 30, “Fall into Fall” with our second course featuring apples, pears, figs and persimmons. She’ll tackle all the tricks to thicker fruit butter, seasonal seasonings and deliciously boozy fruits. You can come to just one or both classes.

Series: $200 for 18 Reasons members; $225 for the general public

Per class: $110 for 18 Reasons members; $125 for the general public

Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/265953