The Fit and Food Connection Volunteer Manual

Welcome! The Fit and Food Connection (FAFC) thanks you for your interest in volunteering.This volunteer manual will orient you to our organization and provide overviews of some of our ongoing volunteer positions. We are an all volunteer run organization with approximately 50 volunteers from all over the world. We are appreciative of your kind heart and your willingness to change lives with us.

Interested in volunteering? Take our Volunteer Survey to apply for open positions!

FAFC Mission

The mission of the FAFC is to empower those in need to get healthy through fitness nutrition opportunities. Our goal is to improve the health and wellness of low-income families throughout Northern St. Louis by providing access to healthy food assistance, nutrition and fitness education, and healthy lifestyle coaching. The Fit and Food Connection believes that being healthy is a combination of several factors: good nutrition, proper exercise, adequate sleep, stress relief and positive thinking. We encourage and and teach all aspects of healthy living throughout our five programs: Food Assistance, Garden, Group Fitness Classes, Group Nutrition Seminars and One-on-One Fitness and Nutrition Assistance.

History of the Organization

The FAFC is a merger of Living Joyfully (founded by Joy Millner) and The Food Place (founded by Gabrielle Cole). Living Joyfully was a program wherein Joy taught free group fitness classes and provided one-on-one nutrition and health education to residents in North St. Louis. Gabi’s The Food Place delivered food to low-income individuals in North St. Louis city and county. One day, Joy was breakfasting at a local restaurant. She started chatting with the manager (a volunteer with The Food Place), who, upon hearing what Joy did, recommended that she get in touch with Gabi. The rest is history! They met and partnered to create a non-profit organization that brings food and fitness to low-income St. Louis residents. In 2014, they formed the FAFC, which received its 501(c)(3) status July 2015.  


Gabrielle (Gabi) Cole: Co-Director

Gabi was born and raised in St. Louis City, Missouri. She moved to Chicago after high school to study Political Science at DePaul University. She obtained a Master of Science in Non-Profit Management from Fontbonne University, and continues her Ph.D. work at Capella University. Gabi originally founded The Food Place within her community, and continues to teach and implement the importance of good health and nutrition through her volunteer work.

Joy Millner: Co-Director

Joy Millner is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Consultant, and has been teaching fitness and nutrition for over 25 years. Joy got her high school education in St. Louis, Missouri, then attended the University of Texas at Austin to receive her degree in business and marketing. Joy is passionate about empowering individuals to feel healthier and more confident.

Organizational Leadership

Gabrielle Cole and Joy Millner, Co-Directors

Current Board Members (members serve one-year terms and attend quarterly meetings)

  • Kelsey Koenig
  • Hannah Thornbaugh
  • Heather McCormick

Administrative Committee Leads

Development and Fundraising: Gabrielle Cole

Volunteer Coordination: Joy Millner

Social Media and Website: Kelsey Koenig

Finance: Bridget Cunninhgam

Grant Writing: Emily Kuhn and Gabrielle Cole

FAFC Program Coordinators

Food Delivery: Gabrielle Cole and Hannah Thornbaugh

Food Assistance Program and Community Garden: Gabrielle Cole

Fitness and Nutrition Education (group and individual): Joy Millner and Heather McCormick

Program-Specific Information

Organic Garden Program

Overview and History: The organic garden program started the Spring of 2016. The Fit and Food Connection has 2 garden sites located in north St. Louis city where we grow fresh produce in partnership with community members and local organizations and businesses. Each site is named after a beautiful flower that helps produce strong and natural foods. Project Sunflower and Project Tulip. The purpose of the gardens is to provide healthy food resources in communities where healthy food options are low. All produce is provided to families in need and used in other Fit and Food Connection programs.

Program Lead Contact Information:

Garden Volunteer Positions


Assistant Garden Coordinator

Assists with garden development and sustainability. Will work with Co-Director to ensure forms and tracking are submitted by all volunteers. This individual will lead other volunteers and help make important decisions in the operation of the Organic Garden Program.

Garden Helpers

Garden helpers work in the garden on days that best fit their schedules. Daily tasks include weeding, harvesting, planting, and watering.

Food Assistance Program

Overview and History: The food assistance program began 5 years ago with Gabi starting The Food Place. Gabi wanted to give back to north St. Louis city, an area where she grew up and wanted to fight hunger and provide healthy food provisions to create a sense of community. Food drives were held and approximately 20 families were fed over the holiday seasons. In 2014 The Fit and Food Connection formed, and the number of people we serve has continued to grow over time. With our partners healthy food donations, we currently feed over 100 people each week.

Program Lead Contact Information:

Food Delivery Volunteer Positions


Emergency Food Hotline Responder

This volunteer is responsible for monitoring the Emergency Food Hotline voicemail for new food delivery requests. Volunteer returns calls and, when appropriate, enters recipient information into the delivery spreadsheet. Weekly time commitment: 1-1.5 hours

Food Farm Collection and Delivery Volunteer

On Saturdays, volunteer collects food from FAFC food farm partners and delivers the food to two locations (other volunteers will then organize the food for delivery). Weekly time commitment: about 2.5 hours

Food Partner Collection and Delivery Volunteer (Fit Flavors and Pure Plates

On Saturdays, volunteer contacts five food partners (all are Fit Flavors and Pure Plates locations), collects available donations, and delivers the food to one location (other volunteers will then organize the food for delivery). Weekly time commitment: about 2 hours

Food Donations Sorter

Prepare food delivered by other volunteers for distribution to recipients. Weekly time commitment: 1-2 hours on Sundays

Food Delivery Driver

Deliver food donations to FAFC clients’ homes. Weekly time commitment: 2.5 hours

Group Nutrition Education And Seminars

Overview and History:

The Fit and Food Connection has held nutrition seminars for the north St. Louis community since 2012. This program provides nutrition education on a variety of subjects, in order to educate and empower individuals to learn more about healthy eating. Seminars are held throughout the year in north St. Louis at various locations, including community centers and libraries. All seminars are free of charge, open to anyone, and always include a snack.

Program coordinator contact information:

Joy Millner: (Phone: 314-312-2746)

Group Nutrition Education and Seminars Volunteer Positions


Group Nutrition Education and Seminar Volunteer Overview

We are looking for nutrition professionals, students in the nutrition field, or individuals who are just passionate about nutrition, to help create and present nutrition seminars. Volunteers may generate seminar topics and present as an individual or as part of a team, or take a more “background” role by researching and preparing for ongoing seminars.

Tasks might include:

  • Developing a seminar topic and doing behind-the-scenes work such as research and compile information for a seminar or help organize the event
  • Developing a seminar topic, then researching and presenting it with Joy
  • Researching a pre-selected topic
  • Researching and presenting on a pre-selected topic
  • Helping Joy or Heather determine seminar dates, locations, speakers, and materials, and facilitating the communication and organization for the seminar
  • Helping organize and plan group field trips to the grocery store or farmers market and/or taking groups to local grocery stores to educate on how to shop healthier

Group Fitness Program

Overview and History:

The Fit and Food Connection has been holding group fitness classes since 2012. This program provides fitness class opportunities in a group setting. Some classes are small, some large. Some are ongoing and some are short term. All classes are free of charge and there are no requirements other than to complete a liability waiver and intake questionnaire. We would like two factors to be met by our students: that they typically couldn’t afford to get healthy on their own, and that they have a passion to improve their health or reach their fitness goals.

Program Lead contact information:

Joy Millner:  (Phone: 314-312-2746)

Group Fitness Program Volunteer Opportunities


Fitness/Nutrition Education Lesson Volunteer

Research and compile information that will be presented during a short lesson (approx. 2-5 minutes) at the beginning of Joy’s Monday night group fitness class (5:30-6:30 pm at  St. Vincent’s Community Center). Volunteer may present this material if desired, or just provide Joy with the information for her to present. The lesson could be on any aspect of what helps make people healthy, including exercise, proper nutrition, breathing and meditation to help reduce stress, and positive thinking. Weekly time commitment: as little as 30 minutes

Group Fitness or Interval Training Substitute Instructor

Occasionally substitute for Joy’s Monday group fitness or interval training class. The times would be Mondays from 5:30-6:30 pm at  St. Vincent’s Community Center (although during major holiday weeks the class is at 10 a.m.) or other locations (check with Joy). There may be additional dates and times where a sub is needed for a different class. Joy will provide all information for substitute instructor. Group fitness certification and fitness/CPR certification preferred but not required. Weekly time commitment: n/a

Fitness and Nutrition Program Coordinator Assistant

Assist Heather McCormick by serving on a committee that helps keep the 3 fitness and nutrition programs moving forward. Tasks might include recruiting and organizing group classes or seminars, or-one-on one training and consultations with individuals. Other duties might include communication, promotion, misc. It will change according to needs. Weekly Time Commitment: range from 30 minutes to 3 hours

Group Fitness Instructor (one time or ongoing)

Fitness instructors teach one-time or ongoing classes in their areas of passion and expertise. Really, this could include anything – just mention your ideas to Joy! The FAFC prides itself on bringing a variety of fitness class opportunities to our communities, and can create a brand new temporary or permanent class, depending on what you’d like to do. Classes can be held at a variety of times, typically at at the St. Vincent Community Center or other locations (check with Joy). You can also help teach an already-existing class. Ask Joy for details. Weekly time commitment: varies


One-on-One Food/Fitness Guidance

Overview and History:

The One-on-One program covers both fitness and nutrition. The Fit and Food Connection has not been providing individualized personal training and nutrition education sessions since 2012. The purpose of these sessions is to help an individual reach their health goals, and follow through with them until they are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle on their own. Sessions may be short term or long term depending on the individual needs, and  can take place in the individual’s home, at a grocery store, or at an agreed upon location.  Sessions can include exercise, nutrition consultation, breathing and stretching, food prep, or grocery shopping education.

Program coordinator contact information:

Joy Millner: (Phone: 314-312-2746)

One-on-One Program Volunteer Opportunities


One-on-One Volunteer Overview:

The time commitment of these individualized sessions depends on the needs of the client and the availability of the volunteer. They may be weekly or bi-monthly in the beginning, and then tapered off over time. They may last 6 months in length, or whatever time the client needs until they can maintain their health goals on their own. Sessions can include nutrition consultation, exercise, discussion, grocery shopping education at a local grocery store, or food preparation to provide the individual with portion controlled healthy snacks and foods for the week.

Volunteer tasks:

  • Personalized nutrition consultation either at the client’s home or at a place agreed upon
  • Exercise session either at the client’s home or outdoors or a place agreed upon
  • Organize and plan trip(s) with client to grocery store or farmers market to educate about how to shop healthier
  • Food preparation sessions to help teach portion control, and provide the individual with healthy snacks and food for the week
  • Set up, organize, and communicate to establish these one-on-one sessions
  • Help create manuals so that the program is formalized, and consistency is maintained if the individuals working with the client vary