Fresh Take Blog

A Snapshot of FoodPrints Summer 2023

Aug. 1, 2023

The FoodPrints summer program began July 3rd at four public elementary schools across the District. For five weeks, students have gathered at Payne, CW Harris, Kimball, and Garrison elementary schools for afternoon FoodPrints sessions as part of the DC Public Schools Summer Academies. More than 110 students have taken part in our hands-on educational model full of positive experiences with food, the natural world, and each other.

Similar to our FoodPrints school year programming, during the summer months, FoodPrints utilizes gardening, cooking, and nutrition education to get students excited about fresh, local foods. For three hours each day, students engage in activities drawn from the FoodPrints’ curriculum of 63 interdisciplinary lessons. Each week is guided by a food and garden theme, including plant parts and plant families, using math in the kitchen and garden, and celebrating the earth. Students prepare and eat a recipe together at least three days a week. Our students have prepared and eaten Plant Part Pasta, Jalapeño & Lime Quinoa Salad, Apple Beet Carrot Salad, Peach and Tomato Panzanella, Mini Green Pizzas, and more.

A Summer Full of FoodPrints Joy

Students arrive at FoodPrints around 1PM, where they are greeted by our enthusiastic teaching teams. An opening circle starts the lesson off and allows for students and teachers to check in with each other, review the day’s “big idea” and agenda, and reflect on past sessions. During the afternoon, students engage in gardening, cooking, and art activities. FoodPrints students ventured beyond the campus twice this summer on field trips exploring The Well at Oxon Run and DC Central Kitchen.

To keep our young chefs nourished, a snack has been provided between activities. These snacks are made from scratch by our staff at our School Within School teaching kitchen, and then delivered to our summer sites several times a week. Recipes include yogurt parfaits with granola and berries, homemade crackers with cheese and apples, veggies and homemade ranch dressing, chocolate zucchini bread, and other simple, tasty seasonal treats all with produce sourced from FRESHFARM farmers. All told, more than 300 packaging-free snacks have been enjoyed by our summer students.

Social-Emotional Learning

The FoodPrints hands-on interactive approach, especially in our Out of School Time summer and afterschool programs, encourages relationship building and social emotional development. The theme from Week 1, Food Culture and Family Traditions, encapsulates this well. At Garrison Elementary, one FoodPrints teacher recounted, “When we sat down to write about our family food traditions, each student wrote down things their families did with detail and pride! They shared them with their classmates and teachers with confidence, which was character building experience and helped build community.”

Social-emotional learning (SEL), where students develop self-regulation and interpersonal skills, is a fundamental part of the FoodPrints experience. Our teachers encourage students to work together frequently, emphasizing teamwork and collaboration to accomplish goals. When students experience positive relationships and environments, they are better able to develop-self regulation and navigate challenges.

For instance, take this example from CW Harris. While  grating carrots during a cooking station, Landon had to step away for a few minutes. When he was away, another student, Amir, stepped in to take his seat. When Landon came back he was a little upset that his spot was taken, but after noticing that Amir was having a hard time grating the carrots, he began giving him pointers and helpful tips. Landon guided his hand and helped him with the downward motion and even encouraged him by saying, “wait, yeah just like that!” once Amir had finally figured it out.

FoodPrints not only helps young people develop healthy relationships with food and the environment, but it also gives them opportunities to build interpersonal skills and foster beneficial relationships with their peers and communities. This summer, that was on full display as students cooked together, shared meals, and tended to their gardens in teams.

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