Bite of Brainfood Blog

All In with Brainfood

By Tyrees Smith

It’s impossible to explain how fast the weeks have been passing by while interning with Brainfood. It is already mid-way through the program and I feel like I’m just getting started. In addition to all I’ve learned about the non-profit sector and youth development, I've also learned how to play a bit of poker in my off time. My love for this old card game borders on addiction now, and as a result I've recently been relating a lot of recent life experiences to poker. My first Brainfood blog post, and the experiences I’ve had working with students is no exception.

 

Thanks for the beautiful, fresh produce!

This summer, thanks to our generous friends at the Neighborhood Farm Initiative, Brainfood programs are getting more fresh, local food than ever before. Early on, we shared gorgeous salad greens from the Fort Totten garden site.

Beautiful NFI kohlrabi made an appearance in the Brainfood Box Project CSA shares recently. Lavender and mint made their way into the herbal lemonade in Brainfood’s first week at Takoma Academy’s Rising Tigers summer camp.

And more goodies are sure to show up on the menu at the Brainfood Summer Institute as the bountiful summer harvest season continues. Thank you, NFI staff and volunteers, for helping us to incorporate fresh, healthy ingredients while keeping our program costs down.

Brainfood: First Impressions

by: Brainfood Summer Institute Intern Hannah Johnston 

 

      I’ve only been an intern at Brainfood for two and a half weeks, and I’ve only been interacting with Brainfood’s students for a week and half. I haven’t been around long, and I’m still learning things each day, but one constant I’ve taken note of is the care with which the students who participate in this program approach various activities.

Win Tickets to The Brainfood Burger Battle!

 

On June 30th ten of DCs best chefs will face off for burger supremacy, and we’re giving you and a friend a chance to go FOR FREE (or you can purchase tickets). Sponsored by Brainfood and hosted by Poste Moderne Brasserie, guests will taste the best burgers in DC to determine who gets the Brainfood Burger Battle crown. We’ll also have plenty of beverages to wash them all down provided by Mad Fox Brewing, 3 Stars Brewing and Brewery Ommegang and Port City Brewing.

We are going to give two lucky winners a chance to take part in the burger event of the year by giving away two sets of tickets to the Burger Battle.

All you’ll need is an active twitter account, a burger, and a camera.

For Our Amazing Volunteers: A Potluck & An Appreciation

Brainfood, it seems, always starts and ends with circles.  On the first day of class, new Brainfood students take turns sharing their name, school, and favorite food, and after a full year of cooking and learning in our kitchens, we ask them to circle up for one final round of reflecting on what they’ll miss most about program.  Our weekly classroom assistants, too, first join us at orientation and circle up to hear more about what we do and what it means to be a part of the Brainfood community.  It was only fitting that last night, we honored our amazing classroom assistants with one last appreciation circle in the Youth Garden -- our way of thanking them for helping our classrooms and kitchens run each day.

Three Things I've Learned from Community MVPs

Can I tell you something?  I love celebrations.  I really do. 

I love any excuse to gather up lots of people, preferably around food, to delight in each other’s company, and if that food was made together, well gosh, even better! 

I whole heartedly believe we should, if possible, celebrate each and every day; because each one of us is doing something, be it big or small, that's worth jumping for joy about. 

Thank goodness for Brainfood, because we’re all about celebrations around here.  We’re all about singing the praises of our students, community partners, interns and staff whenever we can. 

Bittersweet Farewell - KAS Graduation

This past Thursday marked the end of the Kitchen All Stars 2013 program year.  It was an amazing year of laughs, food, and fun with a spattering of heart to hearts, spills and a couple bites of a little too “well browned” foods.  This is what makes working at Brainfood so great, being able to learn, grow and share with participants.  There is nothing better than spending 8 months cooking and getting to know Brainfood participants.  

The year ended with a bang as participants competed in an Iron Chef-style competition, Chef’s Challenge.  We had seven different teams from both sites compete to see who could showcase their skills in three innovative dishes.  Judges scored teams based on teamwork, creativity, presentation, cleanliness and taste. And the winners are:

Farewell, Brainfood!

Blog post by Sarah Lange, Spring Intern

When I graduate from the University of Maryland in 6 days, I will be leaving much more than the friends, classmates, and professors I have spent the last four years with.  I will also be leaving another family I have gained in the last four months, my Brainfood family.

                         

Wait, you can eat cabbage flowers??

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 Yes, and they are delicious! So are chive flowers, as students and teachers recently discovered, and both edible flowers made appearances in our springtime salad earlier this week. This past Tuesday and Wednesday, dozens of Kitchen All Stars and MVPs ventured into the Brainfood garden for the first time.

There was a lot going on in this vibrant green space: Touring the raised beds with farmer Kate. Harvesting herbs, radishes, greens, and cabbage (and nibbling on the delicate yellow cabbage flowers while harvesting). Conducting a human scavenger hunt to learn more about their peers from different Brainfood sites. Planting our inaugural fruit tree (a fig!) at the Mount Vernon site. And, of course, lots of cooking and eating. It is an adventure perhaps better told in photos than in words....

 

Sharing Stories and Planting Seeds: The Changemakers Panel

There aren’t many people who’ve been lucky enough to move to a place where they’ve already planted a garden.  But when we finally packed up our office into boxes and made the move to our third site last September, it was the Youth Garden that greeted us and made the space feel like home.  As we struggled to detangle our rat’s nest of cables and cords, our sweet potato vines gracefully sprawled over the raised beds in a green gush of heart shaped leaves.  While we frantically tossed folders and binders on any available flat surface (but mostly on the floor), attentive okra pods reminded us of nature’s ability to economize on space.  And as we separated spoons from whisks in our new kitchen space, Thai pumpkins silently swelled, filling in the spaces and pushing aside the thick warped stalks that bore them.

Though we didn’t quite match the ambitious pace of our garden, we’ve settled into our new home this spring.  This last week also marked a milestone for us, as we hosted our second panel of food advocates  who gathered to share their stories about fighting for change in the food system.  The common thread that connected our panelists was a love of good, sustainable food that ultimately led them to leadership roles in very different fields.

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