This week I had the privilege of speaking with Alexis Dwyer, a Program Specialist at the New Hampshire Department of Education in the Office of Nutrition Programs and Services, and a food justice advocate.
Alexis was born and raised in Tampa, Florida and when an AmeriCorps position opened up with Cooking Matters® New Hampshire at the New Hampshire Food Bank, Alexis was thrilled to be a part of the mission of empowering families in the community with hands on cooking and nutrition lessons on how to stretch their food dollars in a healthy and delicious way.
When I asked Alexis why she decided to stay, work and play in New Hampshire she said,
While giving back through AmeriCorps I fell in love with the state. Being in New Hampshire is nothing like where I grew up. From the beautiful lakes, to the seacoast, to the mountains, and having Boston just over the border, and not to mention the seasons, I felt like I hit the jackpot. To me, New Hampshire is one of the best kept secrets which shouldn’t be a secret at all. New Hampshire is full of small towns with plenty to do. Being able to grab a cup of delicious locally roasted coffee at a coffee shop where I know the barista and then run into two people I know is something I love. Having that community feeling is one reason I just haven’t been able to tear myself away.”
Since moving to New Hampshire, Alexis has become an active and vibrant member of her community. She has served on the advisory board of the YMCA of Downtown Manchester, where she was honored to volunteer with them as their work goes beyond the walls of the YMCA building and out into the city helping children reach their potential.
Alexis has enjoyed volunteering with Girls at Work, a non-profit that empowers girls through tools and working with their hands to build confidence and self-esteem, as well as the non-profit Old Sol Alliance, that uses live music to make positive social change. Alexis is an alumni of the Leadership Greater Manchester Class of 2017, and in 2016 was one of the New Hampshire Emerging Leader Delegates at the New England Food Summit.
When Alexis is not working or volunteering you can find her swimming in the open waters of New Hampshire, taking in the beautiful scenery. She enjoys swimming alongside the loons, which are much safer swimming companions than the many alligators found in Florida lakes where she grew up! When not swimming she loves to paddleboard, visit Wallis Sands beach, and grab a cup of coffee with her husband in Portsmouth.
One topic Alexis is very passionate about is affordable and healthy meals for all socio-economic classes.
Five facts you should know:
- Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters® is operated in New Hampshire through the NH Food Bank. Cooking Matters® empowers families with the skills to feed their kids healthy meals on a budget. Check out delicious recipes to make for your family.
- During the pandemic, Cooking Matters® offers virtual classes.
- Check out Alexis on WMUR’s Cook’s Corner giving a healthy inexpensive recipe!
- The NH Department of Education’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (NHDOE FFVP) is in elementary schools across the state. The program introduces elementary school children to a variety of produce that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to sample and connects New Hampshire farms to schools.
- The NHDOE FFVP program was recently awarded a USDA Farm to School Grant – farm to school supports kids and local farmers!
When I asked Alexis what advice she had for young professionals looking to get involved she said:
I think volunteering is finding that sweet spot for what you are passionate about. Look out for topics that you love to discuss and see what is available in that arena. There is something out there for you, whether it is long term or volunteering for one time events, and you will meet wonderful people along the way.”
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi
There are so many wonderful people and agencies making a difference in our own backyards!