As we prepare to open our brand-new healthy café and youth job training site in DC’s Ward 8 early next year, we’ve begun some innovative partnerships with some of our future neighbors on the campus of THEARC. One early partner has been ArtReach GW, a free visual arts program serving residents of Wards 7 and 8 under the auspices of The George Washington University. Earlier this year, Aselin Lands, director of ArtReach GW, noticed that many of the participants in her after-school program came in each day with less than healthy meals. She reached out to our Nutrition and Community Education team about doing a lesson and cooking demonstration.
Creatively merging our two organizations’ areas of expertise, Aselin created art lessons to correspond with three popular DC Central Kitchen nutrition lessons: “MyPlate”, “Where does your food come from?” and “Eat the Rainbow.” For six weeks, 30 students alternated between interactive nutrition education lessons and creative art projects. Each of their nutrition education lessons involved a hands-on cooking demo, including our popular kale salad recipe and a taco representing all five food groups. One student, Dylan, liked the kale salad so much that he later made it with his family at home! However, he did report being just a little disappointed that his mom bought pre-chopped kale instead of a bunch, meaning he couldn’t use the knife skills he had learned in class with us.
This innovative partnership merging artistic expression and nutrition education culminated in a final student exhibition earlier this month at the Community Gallery at THEARC. Students, family members, and THEARC partners joined together to unveil and celebrate the art projects. Becca, our Nutrition and Community Education Coordinator who worked with the students throughout the program, noted how “it was so wonderful to see the culmination of our work with the students from ArtReach. The artwork they produced creatively displayed and reinforced all the themes we covered during our nutrition lessons — MyPlate, the food system, and eating a rainbow.”
As we look ahead to opening our new café and youth training program at THEARC in the spring of 2019, we look forward to new, intersectional collaborations with ArtReach GW and the many other outstanding community partners on campus!