In loving memory of Shana: FRESHFARM’s Shana Donahue Memorial Fund for Future Food Educators
This summer, as sunflowers bloom, we are reminded of Shana Donahue – a beloved FoodPrints teacher who will always be remembered for her kindness, bright spirit, and love of summer sunflowers. A DC native, Shana was driven by a passion for childhood nutrition education; she was proud to share her love of growing and eating healthy vegetables with young Black students in DC who too often struggle with food insecurity at home and food access in their communities. Shana’s commitment to racial equity and justice in the District had a profound impact on all of us at FRESHFARM.
In loving memory of Shana, FRESHFARM’s Shana Donahue Memorial Fund for Future Food Educators supports DC natives pursuing education and careers in food education and sustainable agriculture by training and hiring them as FoodPrints interns or assistant teachers.
At FRESHFARM, we have honored Shana’s legacy by keeping the principles of racial equity and justice at the forefront of our work every day. With Shana’s Memorial Fund, FoodPrints is able to further support young DC natives with a passion for food and nutrition education. This Fund has supported two new FoodPrints staff members this year, Vonnie Love and Da’Shawn Covington.
Vonnie came to FoodPrints with a desire to provide children living in cities the opportunity for experiences to explore soil and learn about new foods. As a child, Vonnie grew up in DC, and did not have these experiences until she was an adult. She reflects, “I am as excited as the kids are when we grow veggies and make nutritious foods… I never grew broccoli before – and so I shared the kids’ excitement when we grew it in the garden and ate it raw, roasted, and in salad.”
Vonnie has been supported by the Shana Donahue Memorial Fund in her work as Lead Educator at Powell Elementary. She says, “Food is everything, but not everyone has access to food. We have to learn about why food is limited and create more opportunities to access delicious food.” Vonnie has been thrilled to widen access to food experiences for kids in DC – and she has been inspired by the students’ expression of their own food identities. Outside of FoodPrints, Vonnie is a photographer of environment and nature.
Da’Shawn came to FoodPrints as a DC native who grew up in Brookland and had connected with The Green Scheme through another FoodPrints teacher, Jerome Nesbitt. “I see myself in my students,” she said, connecting her personal experiences being raised in DC with her passion for food education.
Like Shana, Da’Shawn thinks about what kinds of access her students have to different kinds of foods at home. She shared, “As a kid, I don’t remember having any experiences learning about gardening or eating your own food.” Da’Shawn talks about how her parents have learned from her new food knowledge, similar to the way she sees her FoodPrints students bringing home new excitement for fresh fruits and veggies, and the desire to prepare and eat them at home just like they do in FoodPrints class. Outside of FoodPrints, Da’Shawn is a music producer with Brown Sugar Productions, which is focused on representing women of color.
This spring, Shana’s former students, fellow Simon Elementary FoodPrints teachers and FoodPrints teachers, and family members gathered for a tree planting ceremony in her honor to share how much she meant to the community. At the ceremony, students read poems dedicated to Shana. “She had an amazing impact,” reflected Da’Shawn. A tree planted in Shana’s memory faces the garden at Simon, which has since expanded and continued to thrive since Shana’s time at the school, a testament to her influence on the FoodPrint’s program and the Simon community. At the tree planting, all of the students helped put mulch around the tree to conclude the ceremony.
Shana’s Memorial Fund has contributed to the growth of budding food educators. Da’Shawn and Vonnie share Shana’s deep passion for food justice and food education by growing, cooking, eating, and learning with young students across DC through FoodPrints.You can support next year’s new food educators in the FoodPrints program – like Da’Shawn and Vonnie – by contributing to the Shana Donahue Memorial Fund.