Vetri Community Partnership has over 150 active volunteers working across its programs. Our organization attracts a wide range of volunteers, each with interesting and varied backgrounds — educators, nutritionists, students, chefs, or simply food enthusiasts!

This National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 15-21), we wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of our volunteers and learn more about why they volunteer with VCP!

Special thanks to all of VCP’s dedicated volunteers. There would be no mission without your generous support.

Danielle Gartner

Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Dunbar Elementary

Danielle is a sophomore Public Health major at Temple University and is particularly interested in how diet can be used as a method of preventative healthcare.

What Danielle likes most about volunteering for Vetri Cooking Lab is that it gives her an opportunity to actually make a difference. As a student, she spends so much of her time learning about health problems, but is rarely given any information on simple things she can do to help mitigate these issues. Educating kids on the benefits of a well-rounded diet and helping them create nutritious meals is a great way to start changing how people view food and nutrition.



Joyce Dean

Volunteer with My Daughter’s Kitchen at Hunter Elementary

Joyce Dean is a new volunteer with our My Daughter’s Kitchen program! Joyce is a retired Nurse Anesthetist and brings a unique healthcare perspective to the kitchen. She has made a great impact in the kitchen by teaching students the importance of sterility and safety, especially while using knives.

So far, Joyce has been enjoying her volunteer experience and really loves working with such spectacular students, school staff, and fellow volunteers. When Joyce is not volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership, she enjoys traveling, making delicious dinners, and taking classes at Penn State.


Michael Miller

Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Antonia Pantoja Charter School and William D. Kelley School

Michael has a varied background, including working in restaurants — both in the kitchen and the front of house. He is currently pursuing a career in education and volunteering with Vetri Cooking Lab allows him to use his past experience with food, but gives him a taste for working with students in an academic setting. When he’s not volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership, Michael volunteers with other organizations, including Manna.


Jenn Braxton

Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Antonia Pantoja Charter School

Jenn is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in France and the pastry program at The Culinary Institute in NY. She recently went back to school at West Chester University to obtain her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and is applying for internships to meet the requirements for becoming a Registered Dietician.

In the meantime, she is taking advantage of a break in her schedule to volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Pantoja. While she needs to get a ‘real job,’ she loves volunteering with VCL, as well as past experiences with a Vetri Community Partnership program at ESF camps and community visits with the Mobile Teaching Kitchen. Volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership fulfills what she feels is her personal mission — to help people learn to cook and eat healthy meals.

Jane Pupis

Volunteer with My Daughter’s Kitchen at William H. Loesche Elementary School

Jane Pupis has been volunteering with our My Daughter’s Kitchen program at William H. Loesche Elementary School for about 4 years! Jane is a retired teacher who came to learn about volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership through the weekly My Daughter Kitchen write-ups in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Jane loves diving into new recipes with students every week and learning how to integrate healthy foods into a diet, alongside the youth. She is impressed by the students’ large culinary vocabulary, and often hears them crediting this lingo to the fun cooking shows they watch at home. When Jane is not volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership, she loves reading with her book club, exercising, and socializing with friends.


Liz Platzker

Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at McMichael Morton School

Liz has been a volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab for two semesters (last semester she was at Dunbar Elementary).

Her background is in fashion. When she was twenty, she launched a girls clothing line called Change de Chanel that was inspired by the famous fashion label, Chanel, with a quirky twist. Later, she worked and designed for women’s fashion lines for INC, Ann Taylor Loft, Lord & Taylor, and Ascena Retail Group.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Liz enjoyed many fresh, healthy meals at home with her family. Her mother, an interior designer, even self-published a cookbook called “30 Days in the Life of a LA Wife.” Now a mother herself, Liz involves her 7-year-old daughter in all aspects of meal preparation – reading recipes, discussing nutrition labels, shopping at Reading Terminal Market, and cooking.

Liz says it is amazing to teach kids in Vetri Cooking Lab about nutrition and the art of cooking. She enjoys learning more about each student and hearing about the foods they appreciate and gravitate to. She has found the volunteer experience to be enriching – for both the teachers and students!


Jay Epstein

Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Russell Byers Charter School

Jay has been volunteering with our Vetri Cooking Lab program at Russell Byers Charter School for the past two semesters. Jay works within the Human Resources Management team at TD Bank. Jay came to learn about volunteer opportunities at Vetri Community Partnership through his work, as TD Bank is a largely community driven corporation.

Jay was already familiar with the Vetri brand, being an avid Philadelphia foodie. When volunteering, Jay enjoys that the recipes are appropriate for all age groups and even loves to test them out at home! When Jay isn’t volunteering, he enjoys teaching and playing Jazz piano, trying out new restaurants, and traveling.