Get to know the new faces at MDFMA – this is from one of our new VISTAs, Nate Charnas:
I started my year of AmeriCorps VISTA with the Maryland Farmers Market Association at the end of July, right in the middle of market season. It’s been such a fun and informative experience visiting Maryland markets and getting to know all of the wonderful market managers, vendors, and customers.
I was born and raised in San Francisco and went to college at Johns Hopkins University, where I studied international studies and jazz bass. After graduating in 2013, I worked at a non-profit daycare, a second-hand jeweler, and a country club snack bar (among other odd jobs), and I drove across the U.S. three times (back and forth from college, then moving to New York). I also lived in southern Spain for 6 months, in a pueblo of 1,000 people surrounded by hills with olive trees; I did most of my shopping at the town’s fruterias for produce and carnicerias for meat, and I really came to appreciate having a personal and local connection to the food I ate.
Before moving back to Baltimore, I had an internship with the International Rescue Committee in New York. I worked with refugees and asylees resettling in the U.S., with a focus on helping our clients with training for job interviews and employment in the American workforce, enrollment in government programs including Social Security and SNAP, and family budgeting and financial literacy.
My work with SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) and budgeting, in particular, showed me how difficult it is for so many people to find affordable and nutritious food, and it got me interested in food justice and other related issues. At MDFMA, I’ll be working on increasing access to farmers markets and our Maryland Market Money program, which matches purchases made with federal nutrition benefits like SNAP or WIC – I hope I can contribute to food security in Baltimore and Maryland and help the livelihoods of both customers and farmers. Looking forward to seeing all of you at the markets!