Gen Anderson, Celebrity Chef and Activist, Sounds the Call to Volunteer on Vacation

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Celebrity Chef Gen Anderson calls to her viewers to give back this spring break and beyond.

Gen Anderson volunteers with the Corcovado Foundation in Costa Rica

When I include volunteer work on my vacations, I get to connect with the local community on a much more personal and rewarding level.

Celebrity Chef Gen Anderson of Gen’s Guiltless Gourmet spent the past weekend in Philadelphia preparing hundreds of vegan desserts for local Philadelphia charity ACHIEVEability’s Food-for-Thought fundraiser. Upon her return to Los Angeles, Anderson calls for her viewers across the country to include charity and community service in their free time and especially in their vacation travel.

“I was as excited about making vegan desserts for the fundraiser as I was to see the sights in Philadelphia,” Anderson writes on her blog. “I love to travel, and whenever I go somewhere, I make sure to check out the local attractions and try the local cuisine. But when I include volunteer work on my vacations, I get to connect with the local community on a much more personal and rewarding level.”

With spring break quickly approaching, Anderson has some suggestions ready for those who want to incorporate a service element to their plans. Many destinations at home and abroad offer discounts to travelers who agree to do work on trails, help nurture plant life, or participate in community service projects.

Anderson is especially enthusiastic about the Sierra Club’s volunteer trips, which offer reduced rates and access to restricted areas in exchange for help on trail improvement projects or cataloguing wildlife. Other websites, such as Travelocity’s Travel for Good program, or FlyforGood.com offer discounts to travelers in exchange for volunteer work.

The celebrity chef has recently traveled to the National Geographic BioBlitz in Tucson, Arizona, where she led one of the nighttime hiking expeditions, and gave a cooking demonstration on local desert foods. In 2011, she went to Costa Rica with the Corcovado Foundation to help preserve the local wildlife of the bio-diverse Osa Peninsula.

But volunteer vacations don’t have to be so far-reaching in scope. Chef Gen also encourages her viewers to try out a volunteer “stay-cation.” Whether it’s a week or a weekend, find fun and rewarding ways to participate in local communities, such as walking dogs for neighborhood animal shelters or working in community gardens.

Gen’s Guiltless Gourmet airs on the ION life network and is coming to PBS family stations in fall 2012. For more information about ACHIEVEability and other volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.gensguiltlessgourmet.com.

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