Updates for Healthy Futures
“Umm, excuse me miss; you said you were going to teach me about how strawberries grow after I try this salad. I’ve tried it!” an eager Aiton Elementary student exclaimed while examining a little plant with two new strawberries among its leaves.
On Wednesday, June 8th, DC Central Kitchen’s school foods team celebrated the benefits of local, seasonable food with students at Aiton Elementary School.
While passing out tasting plates of our homemade strawberry salad over lunch, the team educated students about the benefits of healthy eating and explained that the delicious strawberries and salad greens came from Kilmer’s Orchard and Mock’s Greenhouse, two of DCCK’s partner farms in West Virginia.
After lunch, students participated in a nutrition education session with our traveling, edible exhibit, the Truck Farm. The Truck Farm is a garden in the bed of a pick-up truck that we bring to schools and youth programs to educate children about how fruits and vegetables grow.
DCCK is no stranger to using local fruits and vegetables in our meals. This school year alone, school lunches have included food made from 251,152 pounds of local product, and nearly 40% of all food used in our school meals is locally grown.
Last week, DC Central Kitchen held its second Healthy Corners pop-up market at the Chesapeake Big Market corner store in Ward 8. The second pop-up market at this location was resounding success and resulted in the sale of more than 225 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables!
At every Healthy Corners Pop-Up Market, our Nutrition & Community Outreach team brings a variety of fresh produce which we sell at deeply discounted prices. The model provides a risk-free way for store owners to test the demand for fresh produce in their neighborhood without purchasing it themselves, while making healthy food available in communities that wouldn’t otherwise have access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. The pop-up markets also provide cooking demonstrations and taste tests for corner store customers.
Earlier this year, our Nutrition & Community Outreach team developed a tiered membership system for corner stores in DC’s food deserts to participate in our Healthy Corners model. The first tier includes the standard comprehensive partnership benefits of our existing Healthy Corners partner corner stores, like free refrigeration units and weekly produce deliveries. The second tier is the pop-up model we brought to Chesapeake Big Market last week. Second-tier partners don’t immediately receive the full benefits of refrigeration and weekly deliveries, but do receive quarterly deliveries of produce which our team sells during pop-up events, as well as nutrition education sessions and free marketing materials, as they test and build local demand for fresh food. The third tier of Healthy Corners membership is for store owners who already sell limited quantities of produce, but are interested in receiving promotional marketing materials, like guides for easy, healthy home recipes, that they can share with customers in an effort to grow the demand for more nutritious products.
Chesapeake Big Market is typical of many corner stores located east of the Anacostia River in Ward 8. The interior of the store is lined with floor to ceiling glass partitions, and customers place their orders at the window for the cashier to fetch and ring the items for check-out. During DCCK’s pop-up event, however, the interior of Chesapeake Big Market had an entirely different setup. Beautiful, engaging displays of kale, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, oranges, bananas, and peaches lined the perimeter of the store for customers to peruse and pick at their leisure.
Be sure to check out photos from the Chesapeake Big Market pop-up on our Flickr page and stay tuned for more information about future Healthy Corners pop-up markets!
At DC Central Kitchen we’re operating innovative programs that fight poverty, hunger, and poor health 365 days a year. Though our work is constant, we’re always striving to do more. In fact, as of Pi Day (March 14, or 3.14) 2016, our Community Outreach team has conducted 314 nutrition education events for our community since January 2015! While many people in our city are aware of our efforts to bring healthy, affordable food to neighborhoods where it would otherwise be scarce, we have made major investments in our outreach and nutrition education efforts in the past few years as well. It’s not enough just to expand the radius of our healthy food distribution network. To create a virtuous circle of healthy behaviors, we’re giving parents, children, and other residents of DC’s food deserts the knowledge and skills they need to make that food part of their daily lives.
In an effort to integrate healthy food and healthy living, DC Central Kitchen’s programs reach DC residents where they are – whether that’s in their community, at school, or at their local corner store. While many DC residents live more than a mile from their nearest full-service grocery store, we’ve found that doesn’t reflect a lack of consumer demand for fresh, nutritious items—just a failure of supply. With over 67 current locations, our Healthy Corners program makes healthy food affordable and accessible. We develop new products that encourage healthy eating on the go, including fresh-cut fruit, scratch-cooked versions of popular snacks, and healthy, ready-to-eat meals packed with wholesome ingredients.
In order to help DC residents learn how to create full meals out of the ingredients sold at their corner store, our Community Outreach team offers cooking demonstrations and provides recipes cards for healthy meals that can be made using affordable products sold at our Healthy Corners locations.
We believe changing behaviors and creating affordable access to healthy food requires going beyond single-pronged solutions. That’s why we’re fighting childhood obesity and poor health through a recent partnership with the DC Department of Health (DOH) and Playworks, a national nonprofit organization that turns recess and afterschool hours into structured opportunities for physical activity and healthy play. DCCK brings nutrition education and healthy food to Playworks’ partner schools in Wards 5, 6, 7, and 8, and Playworks helps DCCK educate our students about easy strategies for increasing daily physical activity. Together, we’re reaching more at-risk children and families more holistically.
“I was greeted with a big hug from, Michael, a fifth grader at one of our partner schools. He was so excited to recognize me from both Playworks Junior Coach Leadership Program (JCLP) and Class Game Time (CGT). After spending almost 2 hours on Wednesday in JCLP learning about nutrients and playing a game called ‘Meal-ay Race,’ Michael was ecstatic to see me in his classroom the next day. He knew that we would be discussing similar topics in his class and was prepared to answer every question. He even helped explain the game to his classmates!”
As the food service provider for 11 schools serving low-income children in DC, we’re preparing and serving up to 6,800 healthy, scratch-cooked breakfasts, lunches, and suppers every day. Like all educators, we want to see our students take home with them what they learn in school, so we offer recipes and cooking demonstrations to help parents transfer the good habits kids learn at school to the dinner table at home.
DC Central Kitchen’s mission is to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities, and our nutrition education initiatives are just one way we’re building a stronger community through food, together. Whether our outreach team is in a school, an afterschool program, or a corner store, we’re working to bridge the gap between knowledge and affordability to create a healthier, more prosperous community for us all.
Our nutrition outreach team joined the 4th and 5th graders during their “Junior Coach” training at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy with Playworks DC, a national organization that brings positive play and physical activity to schools. The students attend six DC public schools in low-income areas across DC’s Wards 7 and 8.
To make it approachable for the students, our team used simple recipes with 3 or fewer ingredients —each snack took only about 5 minutes to prepare! Students also went home with recipe cards to create the snacks again at home.
DC Central Kitchen and Playworks are already planning for further ways to partner and provide nutrition education and physical activity promotion for DC’s youth. To learn more about DC Central Kitchen’s community nutrition outreach, visit http://www.dccentralkitchen.org/healthyfutures/.
Thank you for supporting DCCK!
With the help of many generous donors, we met our goal to purchase a new delivery truck!
DC Central Kitchen’s one-of-a-kind Healthy Corners program more than doubled the number of locations last summer from 28 stores to 67. To keep up with our growing delivery routes, we drafted an aging, unrefrigerated van into service and made do. But with summer approaching, we needed help to buy a truck that could keep produce cool and looking good despite Washington, DC’s brutal heat and humidity.
We needed the new refrigerated delivery truck to meet the incredible demand for fresh fruits and vegetables among DC residents in low-income neighborhoods costs $55,000. To help us reach our goal, the Carter and Melissa Cafritz Charitable Trust issued a $15,000 matching grant which we met on Friday, April 10! Their support brought us to our goal of $55,000!
Thanks to the support of our generous donors, we are able to purchase a new truck that will bring affordable fruits and vegetables to our neighbors who rely on Healthy Corners for access to nutritious foods.
Our Healthy Corners program launched in 2011 with the goal of bringing affordable, high-quality produce and nutritious snacks to corner stores in Washington, DC’s ‘food deserts.’ These are parts of the city where widespread poverty and underdevelopment mean that residents have limited or no access to grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or other providers of healthy food. 71% of residents of DC’s food deserts are overweight or obese and 15% have diabetes.
We wanted our neighbors to have healthy choices. So Healthy Corners teamed up with small corner stores to give them the training, refrigerators, and heavily discounted wholesale deliveries of nutritious food they needed to finally sell healthy options at prices their customers could afford. And the community responded, purchasing 141,368 healthy items in 2014! A second refrigerated truck will allow us to deliver 104,000 additional items to participating corner stores in 2015.
And a new truck will allow us to do more than just keep food fresh in transit. With a second truck available, we can make smaller, twice-weekly deliveries to stores we currently visit just once a week. That means more appealing fruits and vegetables on the shelf, less waste of overripe produce, and more nourishing foods purchased.
Because of you, we raised enough funds to help purchase a new refrigerated delivery truck for Healthy Corners. We’ll be ready for summer deliveries and can continue to ensure our neighbors have access to healthy, affordable food. Thank you for supporting DC Central Kitchen!
DCCK Opens New Baking Corner to Provide Healthy, Whole Grain Snacks and Baked Goods to 35 Afterschool Programs
On August 7th we celebrated the official opening of DC Central Kitchen’s new Baking Corner! Thanks to key investments from our friends and partners, and a generous matching grant from the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, DCCK is able to bring our healthy baking program to fruition.
Back in April we announced DC Central Kitchen Production Manager William Ferrell’s concept for an innovative baking program at DCCK, for which he hoped to create healthy, whole grain snacks and breads for the afterschool programs we serve. William, who came to DC Central Kitchen in 2010 after being released from prison, was a student in our Culinary Job Training program and now serves on staff as a supervisor in the Kitchen. With a long held passion for baking, and a personal interest area for culinary growth, William realized he could make our snacks for afterschool programs more nutritious and less costly by doing more baking on-site and relying less on packaged, processed foods.
William creatively uses ingredients such as natural sweeteners and avocados to make traditional favorites, like banana bread and cheesecake, much healthier. For the Baking Corner opening, William shared samples of some of his original baked goods recipes, including pumpkin bread with lower sugar content, and whole wheat biscuits. Our guests indulged in his healthy treats while exploring some of the new equipment purchased for the Baking Corner. Among several items that now make up this new space, William and his team have access to multiple stand mixers and special attachments, a proofing box to help bread rise, a wood work table for rolling dough, and lots of new baking pans.
We can only achieve our mission to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities with the help of our many partners. Because of this support, William, his team, and the more than 15,000 volunteers that work in the Kitchen each year are now able to put his ideas into action by working in this space to create new, innovative snacks and healthy meal concepts for our partners. We’re excited to leverage the talent and passion of our culinary staff and dedicated volunteers to ensure that the afterschool programs for low-income children that rely on our meals receive healthy and nutritious snacks that fuel their minds and future success!
Join us at the Kitchen to check out this awesome new baking space and help put William’s brainchild into action.