People pose with newly earned certificates.

Morgan McKnight poses with four graduates of

the Master Food Volunteers program.

NC Cooperative Extension


Want to help your community eat healthier?  You might try Extension’s Master Food Volunteer training.  NC Cooperative Extension, which supports agriculture, health, and youth in every county in the state, also offers a free training program called Extension Master Food Volunteers for people interested in educating their community on food and nutrition. This program is taught by Family and Consumer Science (FCS) Agents, who train volunteers and connect them with community groups and events where they can teach others about healthy eating.

Morgan McKnight, the FCS Agent for Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender Counties, was one of the first to train Master Food Volunteers. From July to September of 2017, interested volunteers attended 10 weeks of training (a total of 30 hours), where they learned about nutrition, cooking demos, teaching strategies, food safety, food systems, and local food. Once the volunteers completed their training, they “shadowed” Morgan at outreach events to get some hands-on experience.

After shadowing Morgan, the volunteers could attend events by themselves as Certified Extension Master Food Volunteers. Morgan continued to connect them with groups interested in having a Master Food Volunteer at their events, while some volunteers sought out their own opportunities. In their first year, they visited:

  • 1st and 3rd graders at local elementary schools

  • UNC Wilmington’s Food Day

  • Local churches and senior centers

  • Food Banks

  • 4H Summer Programs

Thanks to the dedication of these Master Food Volunteers, a record number of community members learned valuable lessons about nutrition and cooking from people they could trust.

The Master Food Volunteer program is a wonderful way to learn about healthy eating, food, and how to teach these concepts to others.

In your first year, you will attend a 30-hour training (usually spread over several months) and shadow an Extension Agent at classes and events. After the first year, you commit to volunteering at least 20 hours per year, either by yourself or with an agent. You also receive 10 hours of continuing education training each year.

To enroll in a training, contact your local Family and Consumer Agent. If your county does not offer Master Food Volunteer trainings, you can reach out to your county’s extension office to let them know you are interested. Here are the counties that currently offer Master Food Volunteer trainings:

  • Brunswick

  • Camden

  • Currituck

  • Madison

  • Mitchell

  • New Hanover

  • Pender

  • Person

  • Rutherford

  • Wayne

  • Yancey




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