Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity

DC Central Kitchen is America's leader in reducing hunger with recycled food, training unemployed adults for culinary careers, serving healthy school meals, and rebuilding urban food systems through social enterprise.
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Fresh Feature Friday: Introducing Kids to New Foods

, October 26th, 2012

If you’ve caught some of our recent school lunch photos or taken a look at our menus, you may have noticed that we’ve boldly introduced menu items featuring foods kids “hate”: brussels sprouts, wheat bread stuffing, tabouleh, beets, black eyed peas, and whole grain bread pudding.

A Walker-Jones student tries beets for the first time.

But while school districts and parents have historically avoided serving these foods to children, students are practically licking their plates clean. What’s our secret?

We listen.

Through our new initiative Fresh Feature Friday, students participate in a taste-testing program in the cafeteria during lunch time. Katie Nash, our DC Public Schools Program Manager responsible for nutrition education and outreach, started Fresh Feature after noticing that when students didn’t recognize a food, they refused to eat it.

Each week, our kitchens prepare one fresh ingredient, like cauliflower or strawberries, three different ways. The taste tests have proven to be a fun way to introduce children to new foods, educate them about their benefits, and most importantly, find out what they like.

At DC Central Kitchen, we’re serious about food, and equally serious about serving people wholesome meals they want to eat. Student feedback is an important guide to our school food menus. It’s a straightforward guarantee that the students will enjoy the wholesome, scratch-cooked food we prepare.

Check out the editorial recently published in the Huffington Post by DC Central Kitchen’s CEO Mike Curtin addressing the backlash to healthy foods in public schools.

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