Antonio Amore Rojas: My Fellowship with Veggielution
This quarter I have had the privilege of beginning my internship with Veggielution working in various areas of the organization, and I can safely say it’s been one of the best experiences I've had up to this point in my career. Veggielution is a nonprofit located in EastSide San Jose that focuses on Entrepreneurship and community building through their Urban Farm as well various programs they run to help improve and foster a more tight-knit community.
One of the first areas that I worked on was with our Farm Box program, where we fill a box with fresh produce purchased from local Santa Clara Valley Farms and deliver it to local families who have been affected by Covid-19. Participating in the boxing process showed me firsthand how Veggielution directly impacts people in the surrounding area, as well as with the volunteers who make it happen. From the beginning, I was able to dive into working with Administrative Finance, streamlining processes in order to have the most updated picture of where each program is budget-wise. Later in the quarter I became involved in the creation of a Cooperative with some of the graduates of our entrepreneurship programs, who want to start a catering business together. Most recently, I also started working with the operations team to help design a Standard Operating Procedure, a guide of every process as well as the supply chain of the entire operation.
One of the characteristics that surprised me the most when I started working here was the company culture. Veggielution has one of the most positive cultures of any organization I have worked with. The culture there is relaxed, open and most importantly very flat, with myself as the intern being able to contact the Executive Director at any point, which also goes for everyone else at the organization. I would even go as far as saying that Veggielution could be a better place to work than many silicon valley tech companies in most categories.
The most important part of this experience has definitely been interacting with those directly benefited by Veggielution’s programs. I have had the opportunity to do this when we distribute the produce boxes we pack on Saturdays as well as on the First Saturdays of the month when we host cultural events, but the activity that has taught me most about the social reality of the communities we work with has been my work with the cooperative. For one, the meetings we have with cooperative leaders always take place on Friday nights at 8, because this is the only time the leaders have to meet during the week due to them working over 40 hours a week. Not only that, but one of the obstacles we have run into with the cooperative is that many of the people involved want to skip steps in order to see a return as soon as possible, not because they are impatient, but because they can't afford to invest their time in something that does not pay the bills. I have learned a lot working with Veggielution, and I can't wait to keep getting deeper into my work with them.