"She was eager to come and never lost interest." ~ "Yes [this program is educational] because it has enhances her knowledge of foods and food prep." ~ "The awareness of the required skills and/or techniques in cooking has been enlightening for him." ~ "It has opened up a new world for her. She expresses herself through art, now she can do it through cooking."
"I love to cook and Brainfood is an awesome opportunity to expand my cooking skills" ~ " I come to Brainfood Kitchen All Stars because it's fun." ~ "I love Brainfood because I get to meet and work with new people." ~ "Thank you guys for teaching me new cooking skills and new ingredients! I'll definitely use the experiences I've gained from Brainfood in the future!"
"It was a good first step into teaching, something I had not done before. I feel I forged real connections with some of the students. I improved both my cooking and professional skills. Great experience in an office as well as a kitchen. I successfully worked with DC teens (and learned how I would do it differently next time), and I improved my own cooking skills. I also had a good time!!"
“I really think this is a great internship program. I loved how hands-on and active it was, and I loved that I felt like I was given a lot of responsibility as an intern. I felt respected and supported by staff, and this allowed me to feel confident with students. Working at Brainfood was tiring but rewarding, and just the right amount of work. I think this was an amazing internship experience because it really allowed me to take on lea”dership and challenge myself in new ways while still feeling very supported by staff. I loved getting to know all of the students so well and I really value what I’ve learned this summer about teaching and communicating with youth. I also feel like the workshop and challenge elements of this summer were challenging and somewhat stressful, but ultimately probably the most rewarding aspects of the internship experience. I really had to push myself to feel confident and comfortable leading those activities, and the planning process was a new challenge for me. However, running those two events from start to finish really helped me to figure out what makes a successful lesson plan, and how to be an effective leader. I’m really grateful that this internship included those elements because I think I really grew from those experiences. This is by far the best internship I’ve ever had.”
“I believe the support systems in place with all the staff and students, so open and willing to work, created a wonderful and comfortable work environment. It was a fun and dynamic environment, which left a lot of room to learn, grow, and make decisions. It was a good first step into teaching, something I had not done before.”
“If someone would have told me 5 years ago that I would be back as an intern for this very program, I would probably have laughed at them. I can't even begin to explain how honored and lucky I feel to have been a part of the Brainfood team this summer. Brainfood holds a special place in heart -- it’s the common contributor to the periods in my life where I feel I grew the most as a person. This program has done so much for me, so I made up my mind that I was going to give back in some way one day. When I found out I got the position, it was a huge deal for me because I had my heart set on working here. I felt like my life had come full circle -- my very first internship would be at a program that has been in my life since middle school. As an alum, I can say firsthand that this program has a huge impact on its students and it really does make a difference in young people’s lives. Brainfood is such a rock for D.C. youth in an ever-changing city and it is so worth investing in, whether you’re a participant or a community supporter. I will always support Brainfood in any way I can, and as I told one of the participants on graduation day, I’ll always be around, Brainfood will never get rid of me. Its really hard to say goodbye to one of the most incredible experiences of my life, but the memories I received this summer will always be in my heart.”
"Brainfood Summer Institute does a great job of integrating full-time staff and interns. Full-time staff provide the role of mentors in terms of youth development and cooking at the same time as making interns feel that they are at an equal level in terms of shaping the program. It was awesome that I got to create workshops and challenges based on topics that I am interested in and I enjoyed the responsibility given to me to facilitate the summer institute and play a large role in its successes and failures."
"I really appreciated the feeling of being truly integral to the running of the program. Each of the interns played an important role in the development of the curriculum, in the planning and execution of workshops and challenges, and simply in the running of everyday classes and activities. This internship truly gives a person room to explore and hone his/her abilities to build and run a program creatively and effectively. I learned so much about program development, youth development, and just the running of a small but vibrant non-profit organization in general. The freedom certainly enabled me to figure out the kind of work I would like to be doing in the future and where my strengths and weaknesses lie."
Brainfood is a non-profit organization that brings in kids from all over D.C., boys and girls (the vast majority without cooking experience), and makes them cook together twice a week for a total of four hours. You might think that the most rewarding aspects of this afterschool program would be learning how to cook and EATING the food. While it is rewarding to be able to say confidently, "I can cook!" There's much more to it than that.
At Brainfood, students learn how to work efficiently under time constraints with people of different backgrounds, which is a skill that people need to work at large corporations and to get along in the real world. Most people don't get that type of real-world experience at school.
Brainfood equips students with qualities that everyone should have: patience; a willingness to work with others and cooperate; a work ethic; and an open mind. We learn patience when dishes don't taste as great as we thought they would, but we add or subtract ingredients to improve them, instead of just giving up. And just waiting for a dish to come out of the oven requires patience!
We learn that some recipes take longer than others and that we will have to work together to complete them. That teaches us the importance of working with others and cooperation. When you cook, some steps have to come first and some will take longer. Taking all these things into account teaches coordination.
Brainfood also helps students develop a good work ethic. Cooking isn't all fun and games. Once the meal is prepared, pots, pans and dishes all need to be washed, dried and put away. No matter how tired you are, it has to be done.
Finally, Brainfood helps students develop an open mind. At Brainfood, the goal is to expose young adults to a healthier lifestyle through food, and to expose them to new foods. I remember I used to tremble at the sight of whole grains and strange foods. Now, I want to try everything!
Brainfood instilled in me all the qualities I have described. And then the staff nominated me for the POSSE Foundation Scholarship, which identifies and recruits 40 young leaders in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to attend four of the most prestigious colleges in the nation. Had it not been for the lessons I learned through Brainfood, I wouldn't have been able to show the POSSE Foundation that I was dynamic, a team player, and a leader in the community.
I now have a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Bucknell University. Even better than that, I know I won't get homesick missing homemade meals! In a nutshell, the most rewarding part about Brainfood has been watching my own transformation. You have to live it to really understand.