Julie Margolies's blog

Springing Forward

While it’s been a little grey and dreary outside these past few days, those of us at Brainfood can definitely tell that spring is on its way! Here are a few reasons we know this exciting season is upon us:

1. Seedling Alley is up and running! Lyssa, our masterful garden manager, has a whole plan for this planting season, which she’s mapped out meticulously with all kinds of maps and charts. Over the past few weeks, JaNeya, our DC Career Connections Intern at our Chinatown site, and I have helped Lyssa with planting hundreds of little seeds in trays at our Mount Vernon site. As these seedlings have been warmed and watered in their corner of our kitchen, they’ve really sprouted and grown! We’re all very excited about the prospect of harvesting broccoli, cauliflower, onions, parsley, and much much more in just a few months.


My Introduction to Brainfood

     Hi! My name is JaNeya Lee and I have recently joined Brainfood as an intern through DC Career Connect, a youth employment program through DC Department of Employment Services. When I first heard of Brainfood I thought that I was going to be learning how to cook, but Brainfood is so much more than that. When I was interviewed I was asked many questions that had me think about what I would do if I worked at Brainfood, as well as informed me of what the job was about and what I would be doing. When I went to orientation I did not know what to expect, but with the information I had, I understood that Brainfood was more than simply giving youth somewhere to go after school or giving them community service hours. In addition to Brainfood after school programs, there is also Brainfood Homegrown, a youth-led food venture that makes and sells their own products. Brainfood also has a youth garden, which is something that I have never had experience with. I'm excited that I get to learn how it works!

      My first day at Brainfood was great. I met other people that worked at Brainfood and they explained their jobs/roles. I also spent two hours with Homegrown. We made homemade nacho cheese seasoning to go on popcorn and I also tried some of their other products. Next I attended my first Kitchen All Stars class, and even though there were not many students, I got the sense of what I  was going to do in those classes. I learned the students’ names that were there and the Weekly Classroom Assistants (WCAs). 


Four Things at Brainfood That Warm Our Hearts on Cold and Snowy Days

 Winter has officially arrived in DC, but here at Brainfood there is plenty to bring us warm fuzzies in the midst of icy weather:
1. Teamwork from our youth Participants and Volunteers
With smaller groups of students present in class due to this wintry weather, our adult volunteers have therare chance to dosome hands-on cooking! While the volunteers and students see each other on a regular basis, they really got to know each other we

ll working one-on-one to create some super delicious food.

2. Team Homegrown making fresh ginger soda
The warming, spicy flavor of ginger is the perfect ingredient for a wintry all-natural homemade soft drink. Ginger’s natural qualities can also help boost your immune systems, which is important for anyone who’s been walking outside or shoveling during this winter storm!

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Making a New Year’s resolution is a common practice for many people around this time of year. At Brainfood, we figured we’d give it a shot too! But what does it really mean to make a resolution? To answer this question, I went to the dictionary. According to Merriam-Webster, a resolution is “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.” Although the dictionary is usually a pretty reliable resource, I don’t find this answer so satisfying. Why’s that? Let’s break it down.

First, at Brainfood, we begin the process of making resolutions by looking back at our growth and improvement so far this year. Self-reflection is important, as it helps us to figure out what we want to improve upon and how we can best get there. While resolutions help us to think about the future, they really start with thinking about the past.

Defining Our Own Space

At Brainfood, we don’t have rules. “What?” you might be thinking, “No rules? In a kitchen full of students, teachers, volunteers, knives, bubbling pots, and hot ovens?” You heard right, but wait and hear me out. Instead of rules, the Brainfood kitchen is “run” by the Group Expectations document.  So radical! And really so much better.

The Group Expectations document outlines how we want to be together in our space. Everyone at Brainfood– students, volunteers, and teachers – collectively develops this document at the beginning of the year in with the goal of creating a collective space that is safe, welcoming, and fun. While this all sounds great in theory, what does this look like in practice? At Brainfood, how do we create community? Below are five of the Group Expectations that our students have come up with:

Feeling Ready

Let me introduce myself. My name is Julie and I am a new Kitchen All Stars instructor with Brainfood this year. As a member of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, I applied for this position with Brainfood with the hope of bringing together my love for food, my interest in promoting community engagement in youth , and my passion for social justice. By working at Brainfood, I hope to bring together both the “foodie” and the “social science nerd” in me!


                   We made sage cornbread for our
              Weekly Classroom Assitant orientation

My first few weeks at Brainfood have been filled with organization, planning, and preparation. Brainfood staffers have been travelling all over the District for student recruitment, orientations, and trainings of all sorts. 
While it’s been interesting to see all the different neighborhoods that surround where we live and work, migrating all over the city has left me feeling a little unsettled. As such, I was thrilled when I was given two days last week to spend alone in the  kitchen, organizing and cleaning the space. 
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