Member Profile – Rachelle Schulken
Marketing Events Manager
Renaissance Food Group
Whatever you do, don’t ever tell Rachelle Schulken she can’t do something. On a challenge from her husband, Schulken, marketing event manager for Renaissance Food Group, turned an athletic endeavor she absolutely hated into a life-changing passion. Today she is an avid runner who has completed 23 half marathons and 10 full marathons.
Schulken grew up in the small town of Dixon, CA, and although the area is ripe with farms, “the thought of pursuing work in agriculture never entered my mind as a career path.”
Instead, she graduated from California State University at Chico in 2006 with a degree in English. “I hoped one day to be the editor of a fashion magazine. While in college, I wrote for the local newspaper and also for a national video production magazine to gain experience.”
In 2009, she moved to Sacramento and eventually, with husband Casey, relocated to Folsom. While searching for a position in customer service, the produce industry finally beckoned. “I interviewed with Renaissance Food Group on a Thursday and started the following Monday. It’s been 10 years and I haven’t looked back.”
One day her husband, who enjoyed running, out of the blue said, “I bet you can’t run a half marathon.” This sparked the competitive streak in Schulken. “To tell the truth, I was not interested in running. In fact, I hated it, but I was now determined to prove him wrong, so I downloaded a half marathon training plan and completed my first half in 2010.”
With running now in her blood, Schulken downloaded a training plan for running a full marathon in 2013. It was during her 20-mile training run for the marathon that she finally felt the runner’s high. “I fell in love with running. All of a sudden, I felt like this was a bigger part of me.”
She has crossed the finish line of the California International Marathon six times. The annual race starts in Folsom and ends at the state capitol in Sacramento. However, her favorite marathon just might be the Santa Rosa Marathon; the course takes runners through the barrel room at DeLoach Vineyards at mile 10, where an aid station provides runners with “Chardonnay for hydration,” Schulken quipped.
Running for charity, Schulken participated in both the Santa Rosa Marathon (2017) and Long Beach Marathon (2018) as part of the Northern California Food Industries Circle team. “The team fundraises for City of Hope, a charity that is near and dear to all our hearts. I was proud to be the top fundraiser on our team last year, thanks to the generosity of our great industry.”
Similar to her former disdain for running, Schulken did not like eating dinner at home every night growing up. “My mom used to cook nightly, and I remember asking her, ‘Can’t we just go to a restaurant tonight?’ (she said no).”
It wasn’t until Schulken participated in the Whole Life Challenge that she recognized the opportunity to turn cooking from a chore to a beloved hobby. “Back in 2011, I participated in a 58-Day Whole Life Challenge. The main focus is clean eating, but the challenge incorporates other healthy lifestyle focus areas such as mindfulness and daily water intake.” These challenges are designed to improve one’s health and overall well-being, and Schulken said the food component included “no gluten, no soy, no dairy and no sugar. Although, I might have cheated every once-in-a-while with a glass of wine.”
During the cleanse, she was forced to find ways to cook meals she and her husband loved, while staying compliant with Whole Life Challenge. Schulken started perusing recipes on Pinterest, Instagram and from her favorite food bloggers, in an effort to find healthy substitute ingredients for anything that didn’t fall within the Challenge parameters. This inspired a love of home cooking and sharing her healthy recipes with friends and family. “I take ‘unhealthy’ recipes and re-create them to incorporate the same standards as Whole Life Challenge yet make sure they taste delicious. During the cooking process, I take photos, list out substituted ingredients, give step-by-step directions and add them to my social media ‘stories’ for others to make at home”.
Schulken was also in the first Apprentice Class of the Fresh Produce & Floral Council. “I saw an application form on a colleague’s desk and asked if I could apply. It’s a wonderful program and I credit my participation with positively impacting my career and giving me the tools to continue advancing as a young professional in the industry. I have made so many wonderful contacts and still maintain relationships with members of my Apprentice class.”
Speaking of friends, Schulken says she will continue to run marathons, and she does have a “special running buddy” who helps her train for those 26+ mile events… a black Labrador retriever, appropriately named Myles.