An Amazing Summer - One Intern's Perspective

Sahil Dayal was a CalFresh Outreach intern this past summer. Here at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS), he gained invaluable experience, such as expanding his language skills and teaching clients how to apply for CalFresh and buy nutritious, fresh foods. Sahil is currently studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UC Davis. Here is a testimonial about his time as an intern at SFBFS:

My experience as a CalFresh Outreach intern was valuable and educational. I learned a lot working with the CalFresh Outreach team at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. The three most valuable things that I have attained are customer service experience, public speaking skills, and collaborative work experience.

I have gained customer service experience via application assistance in office. I had the opportunity to undertake clients’ appointments by helping them fill-out the CalFresh application. I have also scheduled appointments for our clients that made online and/or paper inquiries. 

Also, I have increased my public speaking skills. I conveyed the information of CalFresh to our clients at our Produce for All’s, supermarket outreach, and other events (i.e. National Night Out). I can speak and understand 2 ½ languages; English and Hindi (Fluent); Spanish (Partially Fluent). Some of our clients did not speak English; I used my other languages to provide them with information as best as I could. My public speaking skills not just increased via English, but also the other two languages.

My collaborative work experience has also increased. I worked with other CalFresh Outreach interns and they were helpful in getting most of my projects done effectively. For example, Kai Hara collaborated with me on coming up with ideas to spread CalFresh Awareness. I also enjoyed working with other CalFresh team members; Griselda, Anna, Ray, Lorena, and most importantly Erika. Griselda helped me practice my Spanish speaking skills. Ray gave me pointers on how to approach individuals at small outreach events, (i.e. WalMart). Lorena kept me on my feet to ensure that I completed my task effectively and on time. Erika was an awesome person to work with because she clearly explained my tasks, gave good directions, and gave me positive feedback that I could improve on. It was an honor and privilege to work with such a powerful and collaborative team that helps those in need.

Other important things that I have gained via my internship are cultural competency in food assistance and advocating individuals in need to practice self-sufficiency. It is hard to convey information to the underserved community, especially those who are homeless, and in need of emergency food. Via my CalFresh Outreach team, I have increased my cultural competency in food assistance by understandings who are these people that are in need (demographics, race/ethnicity, social-class status, family life, life tragedies/successes). It is really important to know what kind of people we are serving. Hopefully in the future, I will use my cultural competency skills that I have attained now in the practice of health and medicine. Another important skill that I have gained is how to advocate for someone in need about self-sufficiency. Personally, it is hard for me to practice self-sufficiency, let alone me advocating somebody else about it. In the duration of working in the CalFresh Outreach Department, I have learned a lot about food insecurity, shortages, and crises. Keeping these in mind, I advocated for my clients to apply for CalFresh and use their benefits to practice self-sufficiency while buying their day-to-day meals. My approach was to not buy non-nutritional food such as chips, soda, and SOFA type food (High Sugar, and Fat food). I told them to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and other meat and dairy products. This way, they would not waste their EBT benefits on junk food and save their funds on buying healthy and hearty foods.

One of the things I would add for our future CalFresh Outreach interns is giving them opportunities to create projects and presentations to present CalFresh information in conventions centers, city halls, local schools, clinics, and religious places (i.e. churches, temples). This will help them achieve intense cultural competency and advocacy skills for the future. Another thing that I would add for our future interns is doing research on how underserved communities can be eliminated and in the near future how they can go from underserved communities to served communities.

Thank you SFBFS for giving me this exciting and motivating opportunity to broaden my horizons via CalFresh Outreach Internship. Special thanks to Erika; you are an amazing individual.

Best regards,

Sahil Dayal