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DCCK Program Spotlight: A Q&A with our Dietetic Interns

Making food kids enjoy can be tough. Ensuring that food is nutritious and fits a host of local and federal requirements can be even tougher. To weave these different pieces of a healthy, delicious school meal together it takes someone with special talent, skill, and dedication: a dietitian!  

Our dietetic interns are an integral part of nutrition programming at DC Central Kitchen. These students spend six weeks with our nutritionists gaining real world experience in food nutrition education and menu planning, conducting student surveys and taste tests, planning their own theme meal, participating in staff training, and identifying opportunities for quality improvement.  

“We hope that interning with us will encourage more aspiring dietitians to pursue careers in food service and community nutrition, and that they will move forward with a new perspective on the power of food as tool not only for nutrition, but for meaningful social change,” says DCCK Manager of Nutrition Programming & Compliance Travertine Garcia, MPH, RDN. 

As the winter internship comes to an end, we connected with Sam Easton, Estefany Torres & Liz McClain – all of whom are currently enrolled in the Virginia Tech Dietetic Internship Program in Northern Virginia – to learn a bit more about their time here at the Kitchen.  

What have you learned working with the nutrition team at DCCK?
The nutrition team at DCCK has a significant public health impact in some of DC’s most traditionally underserved communities, driven by their passion to provide students with healthy meals. Their dedication shines through as they invest thought and effort into making nutrition an enjoyable experience for students. They genuinely value students’ thoughts and opinions, aiming for them to love their meals. This role demands strong interpersonal skills, critical thinking abilities, and the capacity to thrive under pressure, and we feel fortunate to intern with such a dynamic team! 

Why is it important to teach children about nutrition? 

By instilling healthy eating habits early on, we empower our students to make informed choices about the foods they consume, setting the stage for a lifetime of good health. Educating children about food and nutrition equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy food choices that are also fun and delicious, while also learning how nutrition impacts their growth and development. On a public health level, this contributes to building healthier communities and generations to come. 

What are your methods for keeping children engaged in learning about nutrition? 

To keep children engaged, its best to have interactive activities and games to make learning about nutrition fun. Involving the students in hands-on experiences, such as cooking classes or taste tests, helps foster an understanding and appreciation for creating and maintaining healthy habits.  

What’s something you learned from the children in our Healthy School Food program? 

We learned how adventurous the kids are and were amazed by their openness to experiment with new recipes and foods during Fresh Feature Friday! With just a bit of encouragement, they eagerly participate in our taste tests and enjoy the process of selecting the winning recipe through their votes.  

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about our competitive dietetic internship opportunities at DC Central Kitchen, please email Travertine Garcia.