The inaugural class of Master Food Preservers (MFPs) from the UC Cooperative Extension graduated 18 new MFPs on June 20th, and as soon as the ink dried on their certificates, they were gearing up to organize the next certification class.

This is kind of astounding, as most cooperative extensions, both here and around the country, are only able to hold an MFP class series once a year or once every other year. Along with being a significant amount of work, the MFP certification requires money and resources, neither of which are in abundance in the state budget right now. Regardless, if becoming a certified Master Food Preserver was on your to-do list, now is your chance. The application process opened today for a new 12-week series scheduled to start up in September. You have until July 29th to apply.

When the first class was announced, there were over 50 applicants for just 15 seats. The UC Cooperative Extension upped the class size to 18 and chose participants based on culinary skill, volunteer commitment, and leadership capabilities. These first students ended up forming the core leadership of the program and are not only responsible for selecting the next round of students, but will also be teaching the classes and forming policy for the program.

The MFP program isn't just a path to gain some food cred. The program has very strict volunteer and continuing education requirements (30 and 15 hours a year respectively) that keep graduates in constant self and public education mode.

The course runs Tuesday nights from 5:30 to 9:30 pm from Sept 6th to Nov 22nd. Successful graduates (you're only allowed to miss one class) will be expected to share and expand their knowledge through community service and ongoing education. Volunteer opportunities include tabling at farmers markets, teaching classes, or even participating in the program's blog and Facebook page. If you are accepted to the program, you are expected to pay a $120 class fee, which covers all books and materials, though there are some scholarships available. Applicants will be notified by August 15th whether or not they were accepted into the program. Questions should be directed to Brenda Roche, UCCE Nutrition Family & Consumer Sciences Advisor, at (323) 260-3299 or

Felicia Friesema is a certified Master Food Preserver from the UC Cooperative Extension's inaugural class.

LA Weekly