Community MVPs

A reason to celebrate

Last night, amidst brightly-colored streamers, platters of homemade food, and a crowd of 50 guests, our 2015-2016 class of Community MVPs graduated, recieving rewards for the eight months of hard work they put in as teen healthy cooking educators leading cooking workshops across the city. Each participant who put in 70 hours or more of their time (most of them worked well beyond that number) received a stipend check for the workshops they taught and a cookbook of healthy recipes from the program year. Community partners shared stories of the impact our teens made in their organizations; 

You want me to try WHAT??? How not to be a food fuddy duddy.

I’ll admit: I don’t set the perfect example when it comes to trying new foods. Last week I nearly lost my ever-living cool when a friend ordered the Pho Chin, Gan (beef brisket pho containing a horrifying ingredient called soft tendon) and insisted that I try a spoonful of the hot, gelatinous goo for myself. My response? Pure repugnance and adamant refusal.
 

Sometimes you just have a visceral reaction to a food item. Your gut tells you, Do not touch that thing - not with a 10 foot pole, not even with your fingers, and definitely not with your teeth, tongue, or stomach lining.
 

I see this kind of reaction every now and then in our Community MVPs class, both in response to the usual suspects like mushrooms and olives, and to more unique items like a salted duck egg or a can of fresh sardines. But I’m consistently impressed by the way our teenage participants overcome that feeling and just take a bite anyway.
 

Like when Ronnie resisted adding mushrooms to a dumpling recipe and then decided to just try one raw… and liked it.

Ugly is Trendy

 

You have twenty seconds to brainstorm three ideas for how to use your super brown bananas that are starting to attract fruit flies: GO!

    

   (20 seconds later)

 

 Here’s my list (I really timed it, and honestly, whether you believe me or not, I did ask myself that question pretty spontaneously. Originally I was going to use a different fruit, but then my brain did a last-minute switch-up, which probably evened up the playing field between us a little).

 

  1.  banana bread
  2.  banana ice cream
  3.  compost
  4. vermicompost!
  5.  teeth whitening
  6.  shine your shoes

    

Musings and Marvels from Brainfood's Urban Kitchen Garden

I get to witness the growth of a kale plant from seed to plate approximately 60 times each growing season in the Brainfood Youth Garden. And when you consider the hundreds of plants that I watch grow through a full life cycle each year, it would make sense to assume that germination/flowering/fruiting/death/compost is just the day-to-day work schedule. And it is. 
 

But dang! Even as an expected part of my everyday work life, I can’t help but marvel at the tiny leaves still clinging to their split seed as they grow towards the sun. Or the three-foot beast of a kale stem that I throw into my compost bin at the end of summer. It kind of looks like its covered in dragon skin, the scales of which are actually scars where the plant healed itself after each leaf I harvested.
 

Millet and Resiliency: Community MVPs' First Healthy Cooking Demo of 2014-2015

This weekend felt like Autumn. There was a clean crispness in the air, and all of those majestic DC oaks and elms were lit up with orangey yellows and reds. My neighbors at the community garden spent hours piling up cardboard, organic matter, and garden scraps on their now empty beds so the materials can break down over winter and nourish the soil for fertile growing in the spring. It may sound cliche, but everything about the fall reminds me that life is one neverending cycle; that what’s happening now will come to an end but will have a direct impact on how things shake out the next time around. The actions we take to care for the earth, for each other, and for our community today will set the stage for growth and flourishing in the future. There’s something really hopeful and resilient about it.

A Lesson on Respect

Blog post by Maeve Rafferty, Community MVPs Coordinator and instructor at Brainfood Mt. Vernon


I don’t like when they put me in a certain category, when they judge me for who I am with.


Or when they assume I don’t know something, just because I am young.


Kemi's First Week @ Brainfood!

Guest Blogger: Kemi Sobowale

This week was my first week at Brainfood and I’m very excited to be working here this summer. I first learned about Brainfood and its mission to help high school age teens learn life skills through cooking through my school. I applied to do my practicum here and was luckily accepted into the organization. My goals for the summer are to help Brainfood develop a take home recipe guide as well as help review the way they evaluate their participants and target audience.

This summer I am working with the Community MVPs program, which is a program that takes graduates from the Brainfood program and trains them on how to develop and run local workshops. This summer they will be doing farmer’s market demonstrations around the city, which is a way for them to build their leadership skills as well as do some community outreach.
 

MVPs host Chefs' Playtime event for Global Youth Service Day

Even the rain couldn’t stop this group of enthusiastic chefs.

They waded through hoards of rabid cherry blossom tourists, braved the positively gloomy weather, and arrived at our Chinatown site with one thing on their mind: pizza.  And they were in for a treat, because this was a pizza-making workshop unlike any that Brainfood staff or students had ever hosted before.

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