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Our Dedicated Staff

Melissa Stock, Acting Executive Director

melissa.stock@eatsparkcity.org

See Bio under Leadership

Kellie Hill, Gardens and Sustainability Manager


What excites you most about EATS' work?

I love that EATS encompasses the whole cycle of food from growing it to how we dispose of the waste. It seems that people are starting to wake up to where their food comes from with an influx in urban farms and local growers' markets, but the waste part is still out of sight - out of mind. EATS brings composting and waste diversion to the forefront by being present in schools, talking about diverting food from landfills and creating it into a resource.

What is your favorite part of the food cycle?

Harvest! I love that in order to harvest food there is a lot of hard work to be done in growing the plants. I enjoy the connection and mindfulness that are required in working with the seasons and the earth. When food is harvested, it is fresh to be immediately consumed, rather than picked before ripening and traveling across the world to be consumed. Harvest reminds me of bringing people together to make memories and share joy.

What is your best food memory?

My favorite food memory is from a farm-to-table supper where we grew produce on a nonprofit urban demonstration farm in Knoxville, TN and a popular local chef volunteered his time and cooked a 5-course meal with entirely local produce. This event was in a beautiful space called the Mill and Mine, with great bright lighting and open space for conversing with community members. Seeing all of the produce that we harvested from the farm be turned into such beautiful courses was such a treat and a great way to connect with the local environment which allowed us to grow those specific foods (i.e. pawpaw bread made from pawpaws grown in an Appalachian temperate rainforest climate). It's also fun to have an opportunity to dress up when you dig in the dirt for 40 hours every week!

Charlene Rodriguez, Community Liaison


What excites you most about EATS' work?

I love looking through all of our programs and seeing the impact they have on the kids and families that we serve. It’s really satisfying to see the kids be so excited to help you cook and turn around and share and recreate the recipes at home with their families. I like seeing how we build meaningful relationships within our community in order to better understand each other through food.

What is your favorite part of the food cycle?

My favorite part of the food cycle is definitely the consumption/cooking portion of the food cycle. My parents started teaching me to cook when I was really little and some of my favorite memories with my family revolve around gathering together around a table full of food. There’s also something really relaxing and enjoyable for me about getting in the kitchen and making a meal either for myself or for others.

What is your best food memory?

My best food memory is probably from when I was in Puerto Rico last year. My friends and I had spent the day at the beach and had gotten a recommendation from one of our guides about a restaurant right on the shore. I remember getting coconut rice with some sort of fish. It was really delicious and you could tell whoever had made it took their time making a wonderful dish. The spices they used also heavily reminded me of my cultural background.

Kara, UCC Garden Intern


What excites you most about EATS' work? 

I am most excited to teach kids about the food life cycle at each stage: growing organic foods, composting, and back again! Helping kids take the initiative to truly make a difference in their community is extremely gratifying.

What is your favorite part of the food cycle?

My favorite part of the food cycle is harvesting (and then eating).

What is your best food memory?

My best food memory was trying to navigate the COVID-drought of baking ingredients, and eventually finding an under-the-table flour source (I secured a 20-pound bag; I'll never reveal my secrets!) when stores were sold out for months. I felt so cool.

 

Brightie, UCC Education Intern


What excites you most about EATS' work?

I am excited to be a part of an organization that helps spread knowledge about food and healthy eating to the youth.  Looking back, I feel like public education was lacking in nutrition education and I've read about situations where children have a hard time identifying fruits and vegetables and don't know how to incorporate them into a well-rounded diet.  I'm looking forward to working with the youth and helping them become more connected to the food they eat.

What is your favorite part of the food cycle? 

My favorite part of the food cycle is finding new ways to put ingredients together into something delicious.  I love getting inspired by the produce I can get a hold of and putting it together with whatever I have in my pantry to create a satisfying meal.

What is your best food memory?

One of my best food memories is when my family took a vacation to Belize and went deep-sea fishing.  We caught Spanish Mackerel and Barracuda that the guide cooked over the fire on a small island and then we took the Red Snapper back to the Airbnb and prepared it in the oven.  Everything was prepared very simply and it was fresh and delicious.

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