DCPS Food and Nutrition Services Updates

Melissa Herendeen, OFNS Compliance Associate for DC Public Schools
1. There’s a new crew in town: SodexoMAGIC has joined in serving students at 100 of our schools. They offer a fresh perspective, a wide variety of meal options to empower students in making healthy choices every day, and educational tools to make lasting impact beyond the cafeteria!

2. DC Central Kitchen is also continuing to do their amazing work, this year in 12 schools, primarily in Ward 7. We look forward to seeing the happy faces, nourished minds, and thriving students across the District!

3. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) will kick off in select schools this October and we cannot wait to hear the response from students as they sample unique fruits and vegetables throughout the school year. Food and Nutrition Services want to help school’s run this program to its fullest potential so reach out (melissa.herendeen@dc.gov) and let’s partner up to see how creative we can be!

4. Mark your calendars: Our first International Food Day of the school year is coming on November 3rd! You won’t want to miss the cuisine that highlights the country of Bahrain on breakfast and lunch menus!

5. Last but not least, let’s get social! Find DCPS Food and Nutrition Services on Twitter @DCPSEats and like us on FB @DCPSFoodServices so we can hear from you directly and work together to make this year the best yet!

New Pollinator Resource!

Madeleine Carnemark, Pollinator Program and Policy Coordinator at the Center for Food Safety

pollinator-logoThe Center for Food Safety’s Pollinator Program is dedicated to working with DC schools to expand pollinator education and foster an appreciation for the value that native bees and other pollinators contribute to our food supply and environment. After working with and soliciting feedback from teachers, garden coordinators, and administrators across the DC region, Center for Food Safety developed a Pollinators and the School Garden Toolkit. This toolkit includes classroom and garden activities, informational learning guides, and hands on projects. If you are interested in learning more about the toolkit, other educational resources that Center for Food Safety can supply, or ways to incorporate pollinator education into your lesson plans, please reach out to Center for Food Safety’s pollinator team at pollinators@centerforfoodsafety.org.

bee-sheet“For the past few years, we’ve all been exposed to media stories detailing the truly devastating plight of honeybee colonies. However, until Madeleine Carnemark and Larissa Walker arrived at our DC Greens Growing Garden Teacher’s training last year, I hadn’t heard anyone clearly explain the distinction between honeybees and “native” bees, and the unique and important role played by each species. Inspired by their presentation, my students and I now enjoy visiting our garden and observing and identifying the patterns and behaviors of our native bees. To be honest, I had no idea how wide a variety of native bees inhabit our garden. And taking the time to quietly observe them has been a great way to defuse the fear of bees many children harbor, and understand how important they are for us and our food supply.” – Margi Fineran, FoodPrints lead teacher at School Within a School

Sharing Food Memories

Each month our K Street Farm team has been testing out new recipes for the season. Spencer and Jamal, our Farmer Trainees, share some strong food memories and reflect on the new eats they’ve been cooking up!


Coconut cake has to be one of my favorite types of cake. My god mother, Nettie Dupree, use to make the best coconut cakes from scratch. She use to add pineapples to the cake and make it three layers. Every Thanksgiving I would make a special trip to her house for a piece of cake, not just any piece of cake but her homemade coconut cake. She would put my piece of cake to the side because she knew no matter what I was going to stop by and get it. I tried to make it once and it just wasn’t the same. Oh how I miss her and her homemade coconut cake.

Cooking with DC Greens has been a very awesome experience. We have prepared 3 dishes from scratch so far and all three were new to me. I love to try new things and this is a great opportunity to try and learn new recipes. So far my favorite would have to be the first dish we made. It was corn tortillas w/spinach filled with avocado, lime juice, refried beans and cilantro. The dish was so good I had to try it at home and it was just as good as the first time.

I have been fond of cooking ever since I was a child, helping family members prepare meals for different occasions and holidays. One of my fondest memories is helping family members prepare a seafood dish that everyone enjoys every time we cook it. It’s a fettuccini noodle dish made with various different seafoods – shrimp, real blue crab meat, and crawfish in a white sauce made of horseradish, cream blended with parsley and minced garlic. I’m from New Orleans so seafood is normal part of your diet there.

I’ve really enjoy learning new healthy recipes with DC Greens. I have prepared three dishes already, that I can add to my diet. I am a health conscious eater anyway, so I am very appreciative to learn more meals to prepare at home. The first meal that l’ve made was a bean tortilla recipe. We made a spinach tortilla form scratch, that was real interesting to infuse spinach in the tortilla, I have never seen that before. It was really delicious.

5 Questions with Bettina Stern, CHAIA

The Spring Dig, our 2nd annual spring benefit dinner, is just two weeks away and we’ve got an amazing line-up of local chefs cooking up a family-style spread.

One of these stars – Bettina Stern, Co-Founder of CHAIA Farm-to-Taco – shares her thoughts on the beauty of a peach, the power of a simple sauce, and CHAIA’s commitment to the environment.

Why do you cook? 
I enjoy it. It gives me pleasure and it supplies others with the same sensual gratification. For me, cooking is almost a meditative experience and I often do it to relax.

What’s your spirit fruit or vegetable and why?
Summer ripe peaches not only celebrate my favorite time of year, but they “wow” and remind me to savor the moment. A peach is outgoing, frank and ambitious, yet sweet and fuzzy all at the same time.

What’s the best cooking tip you would give to a novice?
Learn how to make a few simple sauces to have on hand in your fridge; they can dress up almost anything. Whipping up a good sauce can make things a bit easier for when you do have to cook. They can be kept for several days after you make them and are a simple way to turn something thrown on the grill or roasted in the oven into something new. Combinations I like – olio picante (spicy) or soy-ginger sauce with grilled fish, fresh tahini sauce with grilled meat, or any one of the three to finish roasted or grilled vegetables.

What do you see as the biggest road blocks in creating a healthy, local food system?
I would like to see the U.S. government supporting sustainability in the food system with a farm bill that better aids the small-scale farmers: those folks growing human-consumption crops, not the commodity crops. Also an ecologically-focused Organic Foods Production Act that would help support organic farmers.

How does your restaurant impact the food system?
Our restaurant is 100% plant-based. Want to save the environment? Eat more plants. Ditching meat is more important than buying local. Meat production requires so much water it’s hard to fathom. One pound of potatoes takes 99.6% less water to produce than pound of beef and 97% less than a pound of chicken. Full disclosure: I am not a vegetarian, but I do eat mostly plants.

5 Tips for the New Growing Season

Kate-LeeAs the new growing season gets underway, here are a few helpful tips to ensure a successful garden from our resident Farm Director Kate Lee!

  • Weeds are growing aggressively right now, especially thanks to all this recent rain. Make sure you stay on top of pulling weeds so that your young transplants get established easily.
  • This is the ideal time of year to add compost. If you haven’t done so already, top dress with compost around all of your plants, especially edibles. That way the good nutrients from the compost will soak in through spring rains.
  • Apply mulch in your perennial areas to maximize moisture retention and limit weed germination.
  • Spring is a great time to plant trees and perennials so they have time to get established before the summer heat.
  • Be on the look out for the imported cabbage moth laying its eggs on your brassicas. Do your best to catch and kill this moth so that its larvae doesn’t eat all your kale and collards before you do!

Community Voices for Produce Plus

FullSizeRenderAsha Carter, Advocacy Specialist 

“Either pay the farmer or pay the doctor. We think you should pay the farmer.” — Pamela Hess of @ArcadiaFood #ProducePlus

At yesterday’s Committee of Health and Human Services’s FY17 budget oversight meeting, several members of the DC community advocated for the Produce Plus program to be fully funded at $1.2 million next year. Partners such as DC Hunger Solutions, Fair Budget DC, Wholesome Wave, Arcadia and FreshFarm Markets all joined DC Greens to testify on behalf of the program. They made slightly different arguments, all to the same end of improving community access to fresh, healthy, affordable food. The top three arguments are below.

1. Produce Plus is an economic kickstart! It guarantees sales for farmers, incentivizing their opening and remaining in the most marginalized communities. This model supports community access to healthy, fresh, local, affordable food. By supporting local food nutrition programs, you’re supporting local farmers, business owners, and community health as a whole.

2. Produce Plus has proven an effective avenue to get low-income residents and families to the market. Once they get their $10 check, they don’t spend just that subsidy and leave the market—they spend a higher percentage of their own SNAP dollars at the farmers’ market too. Produce Plus proves that when people truly have access to better, they’ll eat better on their own.

3. To prioritize Produce Plus is to prioritize public health and market-based solutions. We are on the cutting edge of improving access to fresh, healthy food for the most underserved members of our communities. Why would the city slash a program we know is doing this well for those who need it the most?

After hearing several testimonies in favor of Produce Plus, Committee Chair Yvette Alexander said, “I don’t have any more questions. You’ve sold me.” We still have a ways to go to make sure Produce Plus is fully funded in FY17, but we are well on our way.

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