Friday, March 13, 2009


Imagine you experience hunger and food insecurity. What am I asking you to imagine? I'm asking you to imagine that you're running out of food and you can't buy more food. Not because you don't have time to go to the store, but because you don't have the money to go to the store. You don't have the option of grabbing something to eat at a cafe or a fast food restaurant. You won't be able to eat until you receive credit on your EBT card (this has replaced paper food stamps) or until you are allowed to get food at a food pantry (eat pantry has a policy about how often one may get food). What would you do? Educating individuals how to better spend the money they do have is part of the answer, but it's not the whole answer.

During class on Tuesday I asked a student if she was familiar with this particular grocery store. She replied no, that she did not go to the grocery store because she could not afford it. In Operation
Frontline classes each student is give a challenge to prepare a healthy meal with food from 4 of the 5 food groups for under $10. If they meet this challenge they receive a $10 gift card to the grocery store to purchase that food. This particular student managed to spend only $6.22. I encouraged her to go back fro more. She wanted to save the extra money and use it another time. Imagine guarding that $3.78 so you could make an extra trip to the grocery store. In this moment I realized that I still considered being able to shop at a grocery store as a right. It's not a right for many, it's a privilege - one that I won't be taking for granted any time soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

Here's a look at life in the office. The Capital Area Food Bank recently acquired a Flip Camera. Next week we'll be bringing the camera to the classroom so that you can get a closer look of the fun we have while cooking. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January 19th Make it a Day On!

January is a month of change, not only for the nation with inauguration of the 44th president, but for Operation Frontline DC as well. Becky Handforth is preparing to travel to Ecuador to volunteer for about 4 months. After her time in Ecuador, Becky is planning to attend graduate school studying public health with a focus in international nutrition. We wish Becky good luck in her new adventure!

Share Our Strength has launched a brand new campaign to raise funds to help end childhood hunger. "Operation No Kid Hungry" responds to President-elect Obama's call to action to end childhood hunger by 2015.

1.Donate by text. Share Our Strength has partnered with AT&T to offer two great ways that you can support and participate in "Operation No Kid Hungry":

Text "SHARE" to 20222 on your mobile device to donate $5. AT&T will match all text donations up to $100,000. Help us meet this challenge grant! Find out more here.

2.Hold a food drive:

Beginning January 19th, a national day of community service, help feed those in need by holding your own community food drive. Contact Molly McGlinchy ( at the Capital Area Food Bank to organize a food drive. Additional information can be found here about the Capital Area Food Bank’s most wanted food items.

3. Donate food:

Extinguish Hunger Fire House Food Drive
Serve DC, with the Mayor’s office, is hosting a city-wide food drive from Saturday, January 17 through Monday, January 19 that benefits the Capital Area Food Bank. Donors may drop off non-perishable food to any fire station in the District on those days from 10a – 2p.

For more information about "Operation No Kid Hungry" and how you can help end childhood hunger, visit Share Our Strength's website:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quality Time in the Kitchen

During the last week of October, Operation Frontline DC started its first ever satellite series with the Bridges Program of Guilford Elementary School. Guilford is located in Howard County, a region not typically served by the Capital Area Food Bank. However, when I joined a meeting formed by a group of enthusiastic and dedicated collaborative entities, my decision to expand the program was easy.

Kris Woodson, the site coordinator, is fabulous and full of energy. She not only found the volunteers to teach the program, she also received a grant to purchase all the food for the course. Our volunteers include: Angel Marchman, a personal chef who owns Thyme Savory; Anna Arrowsmith, a dietitian for Maryland’s Department of Education; and Jennifer Mayer, a community health advocate for Priority Partners. As you can see, the expertise provided by these volunteers is making a huge impact on the participants.

Now, I’m sure you are wondering about the classes! We decided to go with the Side by Side curriculum to promote quality kitchen time between parents and their children. We have seven groups, and I’m thrilled to say that the graduation rate is going to be close to 100%.

If there is any surefire way to get kids to eat new foods, it’s having them participate in the meal-making process. Angel has some great tips for kids in the kitchen. Purchase a lettuce knife, so children can help prepare produce. Use a pizza cutter for cutting fresh herbs. Allow kids to do the mixing, pouring and measuring. You might even get them to help with the dishes-quality time with parents means a lot to kids. Most importantly, be patient and enthusiastic about spending time with your children.

Over the course, we have made two-bean chili, eggplant Parmesan, scalloped cauliflower and mushrooms, smoothies, pineapple salsa and hummus. To get into the holiday spirit, we are going to combine our nutrition lesson about breakfast with the recipe next week. Our menu includes pumpkin pancakes with a homemade apple syrup. We talked about pumpkin muffins as an alternative, but those just seemed too typical. These kids want the challenge of creating something adventurous!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Who Knew Greens Could Taste so Good?

I'm serious about the title to this entry. I'm not a greens eater. Never grew up eating greens. I know some of you are now asking yourselves what kind of mother I had. Kind of funny actually because my mother is a very healthy cook. However, now that I'm older (and I'd like to think I have an up-and-coming sophisticated palate), I am trying new foods with gusto. When one of our volunteers, Lauren, decided to showcase greens a few weeks ago, I was all for it.

Greens are in season during the spring and fall when the weather is a little bit cooler. You can make this recipe with greens from the farmers’ market, the fresh produce aisle, or from bagged greens. We recently combined two different recipes and a touch of our own flair to make a fabulous greens dish. During class we didn’t use a recipe, but we estimated ingredient quantities below. I hope the flavors will blend as well as they did the first time, so all you professed greens haters will have a change of mind.

Ideally we would use local fresh greens as an inexpensive and sustainable practice. However, we decided to go with the bagged version for the sake of saving time in class.

Here is our "test kitchen" recipe for Sweet and Savory Cooking Greens:

1 9oz bag spinach*
1 16oz bag kale*
1 16oz bag collard greens*
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 small apples, diced
½ cup of Crasins
Salt to taste

1. Bring approximately 2 quarts of water to a boil in a dutch oven or soup pot.
2. Add kale and collard greens to boiling water and cook for approximately 20 minutes or to your preferred doneness.
3. While greens are cooking, cut and sauté onion in olive oil for 3-4 minutes.
4. Add spinach to onion and cook until wilted.
5. Drain kale and collard greens from water.
6. In a large bowl, mix cooked greens, spinach, onion, apples, apple cider vinegar, and Crasins.
7. Stir well. Serve and enjoy!

*Any combination of greens will work well. Additionally, non-packaged greens may be used; chop and wash before cooking.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Making Education Come to Life

By Angela Leone, Operation Frontline Assistant Coordinator, AmeriCorps National Direct

I first learned about Operation Frontline in 2005 when I was exploring career paths. From that moment I knew I wanted to be involved with Operation Frontline either as an AmeriCorps member or a future volunteer.

Flash forward. In May 2008 I graduated from Indiana University with an M.S. in Nutrition Science. The opportunity to work for Operation Frontline presented itself, and I jumped at it as quickly as I could! What a perfect way to utilize my degree while gaining immeasurable experience in community nutrition! If all goes as planned, next year I will start my dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian (RD)

I’m four weeks and seven classes into my new position, and I couldn’t be more excited about this job! The highlight of working with OFL is getting to know the participants and volunteers.

Last week, at a long term transition home, a discussion of fruits and vegetables took front stage followed by a discussion of sugar. New and favorite vegetables were cut up by participants, roasted, and then piled onto whole wheat pitas for a new take on quick and healthy pizza. During the sugar discussion, participants guessed how many teaspoons of sugar were present in a can of soda. One participant measured sugar, by the teaspoon, into a cup. Once she reached the equivalent of 40 grams of sugar, equal to 10 teaspoons, she stopped to view the sugar. It was indeed a powerful visual! No one was interested in drinking soda, at least for that night.

At a senior citizen center last week we made barley jambalaya and it was delicious. At the end of the session I was chatting with one participant and asked her opinion on the dish. She'd never tasted barely before, but loved it so much that she couldn’t wait to make it for her husband! I am looking forward to seeing her this coming week to find out what her husband thought of the new grain.

Each week we hear stories. see lightbulbs go off and explore new recipes. In an effort to utilize this great resource more, Becky and I will attempt to provide you all with a mini story or tasty recipe each week. You will still get specific updates about classes from time to time and details about conferences and events. However, the quick updates are easier for us and really more meaningful too.

It's almost time for some butternut squash soup, so get that cooking imagination started, and we'll be back soon.

Friday, August 8, 2008

It's Time to Say Goodbye

I think it’s only fitting that we say goodbye and good luck to Ona on the Blog she created. Ona, a true Blogger at heart and an avid reader of all Blogs related to cooking, came up with the idea to make an Operation Frontline Blog a few months ago. Though I was admittedly skeptical at the onset, I soon realized what a great tool Blogs can be for a program. Blogging allow us, most importantly, to share our experiences with the world. But, it is also an avenue for discussion, photo sharing and cataloging our fond memories of Operation Frontline.

Though I have always enjoyed my work with Operation Frontline, before Ona joined the Capital Area Food Bank staff, I must admit, many days were stressful. Running all facets of a program takes a toll on any individual. Not to mention, as much as I wanted to improve and expand the program, there wasn’t time to do so.

Then entered Ona. Relaxed. Passionate. Focused. Creative. Outgoing. Though Ona was an Americorps member, getting paid a shockingly small stipend, she worked long hours without complaint. Our schedules were often crazy, but throughout, Ona kept a smile on her face. She touched the lives of many participants, from kids to senior adults, during this year of service. She impacted and inspired me too. Life has been calmer with Ona around. Life has been more fun with Ona around. We were a true team from the get-go, challenging and supporting one another always.

When someone comes into a job and exceeds expectations, it is inevitably hard to see that individual leave. For Ona, that time is now. At 5pm today, Ona will officially be finished with her year of service to Operation Frontline.

I’m happy to say that Ona has found another position with a well-established nutrition policy organization. She will put her experience with Operation Frontline and her passion for policy to good use.

To you Ona, thanks for your dedication, ambition and friendship. Keep me accountable for updating this Blog, and send me local chef news from time to time. I’m sure we’ll be seeing one another soon at an Operation Frontline series (yes, she has offered to continue as a volunteer!) or at one of our market pot luck meals.

You’re the best! We’ll surely miss you around the Capital Area Food Bank.