Meet GrowNYC Youthmarket SUPERSTAR Mia Fanuzzi, age 16
One funny thing that customers would always say was “Whoa, purple carrots!” Purple carrots were very new to a lot of our customers and they were always really excited to learn about the vegetable.
Hi, my name is Mia Fanuzzi and I attend Fieldston School as a junior. I heard about this opportunity from my dad, who has worked with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and GrowNYC before. I’ve only been at the Youthmarket for a few weeks to complete my community service requirement, but I’ve had a great experience so far.
It is located in front of Montefiore Hospital and a lot busier with tons more customers. By being able to work here, I’ve learned how to work with customers, work with the produce that we sell, as well as interact with the other interns. The area that the market is located in is surrounded by fast food restaurants. Being able to sell people fresh affordable food is a great feeling and by being exposed to these neighborhoods have made me want to do more for people who have less than I do. I’ve also learned a lot while working with the customers. This area is extremely diverse with many different people of different races, religions, economic classes etc… I’ve gotten to learn more about the community I live near by just watching the people who walk down the street each week.
Even though there isn’t a lot of time to be able to talk with the customers and get to know them, I’ve been able to help out this one lady who has come back every week. She bought from our market a couple weeks ago and I noticed she was carrying a lot of garbage bags full of plastic bottles. Another intern and I decided to give the bottles we used to her and she was so thankful. I am also collecting bottle caps to make a dress for my school’s fashion show. So, after I told her I was collecting the caps, the following week she dropped off a whole bag of bottle caps from her collected bottles. This small experience not only made me grateful that she remembered me, but also how big of an impact giving those bottles to her had made. This experience of working in this neighborhood has allowed me to see the little things that I don’t even have to think about in my life, could be life changing in someone else’s.
I learned some things about the farms that the food comes from and I’ve tried many different kinds of squash that were new to me. I brought mushrooms into my meals from the market and try to get more now that the market is over. This was a very fun experience where I got to meet a lot of different people. I learned a lot about how important food is to some people, especially in an area where there are mostly working class families.
Which market do you work at? I worked at the Norwood Market.
How long have you worked for Youthmarket? I worked here to complete my community service for school, and then as an intern for the rest of the season.
What’s the funniest or the most interesting thing you’ve overheard at the market? My group at the market had the funniest conversations and we got along really well so it is hard to choose one thing.
Has the market changed what you eat? Before working at the Youthmarket, my family and I have always eaten very healthy food. We buy a lot of vegetables from markets during the summer and cook at home almost every day. While working at the market and being able to take home so many leftovers, my family was able to cook even more vegetables than we did before.
Do you cook at home? My family cooks at home probably 5 or 6 times a week. We eat out once a week and order in when there isn’t enough time to cook. My dad is the cook in the family, but I’ve taken on a lot of the cooking because my parents work late.
Do you cook for your family members? Yes, I do a lot. I really enjoy cooking and helping out my family when they are working late. I also enjoy cooking for myself when I’m home alone. I’d say that I cook probably once a week. I enjoy helping my dad cook for all of our meals, so I cook pretty frequently. I’ve cooked since I was a child and my parents love what I make. I also make lunch for my friends when they come over or we make dinner together.
Has the market affected your future job plans? How? I’m not sure that it affected my future job plans. I do have new skills that would be helpful like customer service and handling money, but I’m not sure what kind of job I would want to do next.
Or school plans? How? This experience helped me complete my community service requirement for school. I am also more confident talking with people and strangers at school than I was before the market.
If you’re in school now, has the market affected how you interact with teachers? I think it has a little. I was always good at talking with teachers and try to have a good connection with them. I have been more confident talking to people I don’t know, since a lot of the times the customers at the market would come and make small talk with us.
What about classmates? I think the market has helped me with some communication skills. I am more comfortable talking with strangers and maybe more with other people outside the market.
What have you learned about dealing with nasty weather (super hot or cold or rainy or windy)? The weather at the market, especially during the winter, was sometimes difficult and interfered with the amount of customers we had. During the summer, we found different ways of attracting customers by handing out pieces of watermelon when it was 90 degrees.
What about dealing with tough customers? I’ve learned how to deal with difficult customers who didn’t have the greatest patience, which was hard, but I got better as the season progressed.
What’s the most important question you think customers at the market should ask? I think the most important thing that customers should ask is where is the food from and why is it better than other food in the supermarket? This gives the customers a chance to see why they should pay the amount they are for the food and how it bring a better lifestyle.
What’s your favorite fruit or veggie that you tried for the first time while working at the market? I’ve actually tried all the vegetables that were at the market, but I really enjoyed eating all the different mushrooms because mushrooms weren’t a big part of my meals before this.
What’s one you’re not crazy about? I do not like kohlrabi. It was never my favorite and we did a cooking demo with it that wasn’t the best.
What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about working for Youthmarket? If you are thinking about working at a Youthmarket, I recommend having a positive attitude, meet and talk to as many new people as you can (interns, managers and customers), work hard and work as a team, which really pays off.
Do you have any hobbies? At school I am on the swim team in the winter season and I have played the flute for 8 years. I enjoy cooking, baking and so many other things.