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'This pandemic is a blessing in disguise' | DC Program deliveries free groceries and cooking lessons to children

The program serves 30 children in Wards 7 and 8.

WASHINGTON — 30 children and their families in DC’s most underserved communities are learning how to eat and live healthily thanks to the Virtual Foodprints program.

In a typical school year, Foodprints is an in-class program in DC schools through the nonprofit Freshfarm

The program offers a garden to the kitchen food experience for children at 15 DCPS elementary schools to provide a variety of nutrition and gardening education, according to the organization's website.

Now, the organization has a virtual 7-week course that serves families in Ward 7 and 8 by delivering free groceries and garden supplies weekly. 

The families benefiting from these meals have already made an impression on the staff of Footprints, furthering their commitment to the program.

“It's amazing to be able to provide our students, our families, our parents with fresh produce and materials that they wouldn't usually have access to in a food desert and especially during this pandemic,” said Foodprints cooking teacher Serenity Rain.

A benefactor for the program is 10-year old Jahneice Williams, who said her favorite part is making new food and sharing the recipes with her family. 

Foodprints parent company, Freshfarm, is raising money for DC high school and college students who want to pursue a career in food education and sustainable agriculture.

In return, Foodprints will then hire those students as interns or assistant teachers. The fund is named in memory of former Foodprints teacher and DC native Shana Donohue who lost her life in May.

“The kids basically, every week are getting a delivery from us, some of which is produce and things for their cooking class,” added gardening teacher Jill Peralta about the program with Footprints, “and then they're also getting gardening supplies. We have been able to get potting soil and seeds to the kids and just letting them sort of feel it and work with the soil and try to grow things.”

The organization added that in DC, 46% of the population is either diagnosed with or at high risk for diabetes and diet-related diseases.

Forty-five percent of the U.S. population suffers from at least one chronic disease, and 80% of chronic disease is diet — and lifestyle — related, according to The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.

RELATED: Southeast, DC farmshare brings fresh produce and nutrition education to community

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