D.C. Youth Cook with White House Chefs to Honor Nation’s Military

Nonprofit Brainfood teaches local young people to make healthy living choices and build life skills 

Washington, D.C., July 3, 2009 – Brainfood, a D.C.-based nonprofit, announced today that local teens  from its after-school culinary program are working with White House chefs to prepare food for President  Obama’s 4th of July picnic, which will honor our nation’s military and their families. The youth also assisted chefs to prepare for last week’s Congressional Luau and White House Staff Picnic.

Invited by the First Lady’s office, nearly twenty Brainfood teens are showing off their kitchen skills at the  White House. The Brainfood teens are assisting White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass, Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and Assistant Pastry Chef Susie Morrison and their staffs to prepare a July 4th barbeque for more than 1,200 active military and their families, including  veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. To assist the chefs, the youth will spend several days this week preparing vegetables, shucking corn and harvesting herbs from the White House garden. 

“Our young people come from some of Washington’s poorest neighborhoods and preparing food for the President of the United States, his family and guests is an honor and privilege they could never have imagined, but not surprisingly, they were fully up to the task,” said Paul Dahm, executive director of  Brainfood. “There is no other program like Brainfood in the area and we hope to expand our reach not only to serve more of our city’s youth, but young people across the country to show them what’s possible when they dream big.”

Brainfood uses food and cooking as tools to teach young people about healthy eating, empower them to make smart choices and encourage them to embrace new experiences and life skills, such as the ability to cook. Brainfood enrolls approximately 125 D.C. high school students each year in after-school and summer programs that include classes ranging from kitchen safety to international cuisine. Taking its cue from the White House garden, Brainfood will begin its own vegetable garden this summer to encourage its teenage participants to understand better where their food comes from. Brainfood’s programs are in high demand and the organization is forced to turn away more than half of its applicants because of limited funding. 

On July 2, 2009, The Washington Post’s Jane Black wrote an exclusive blog posting about Brainfood’s White House experience and photos from inside the White House kitchens are on the Brainfood Web site.  

About Brainfood: 

Brainfood is a nonprofit youth development organization that uses food and cooking as tools to teach life skills and healthy living to teenagers in a safe, healthy and positive environment. Local high school students participate in our programs either twice a week after school or five days a week for six weeks during the summer. Activities include hands-on cooking classes, lectures, field trips and community service projects. 

Brainfood graduates are equipped with practical cooking skills, an introduction to the food industry, a framework for nutritious eating, and leadership and life experiences that prepare them to make a difference in their communities. Brainfood is in its 10th year of operations and has locations in the Columbia Heights and Chinatown neighborhoods of Washington, DC. For more information, visit: www.brain-food.org.  

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Paul Dahm 

202-667-5515 (office) 

301-529-2679 (cell) 



Karen Lee 

703-966-1282 (cell)