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Learning to Love Vegetables: DeMone’s Story

DeMone has been a Food Literacy Center student since 3rd grade. He attends Capitol Heights Academy, a low-income school with a 91% participation rate in free and reduced lunches. DeMone and his siblings are being raised by their mom, who works as an after-school teacher.

When DeMone first started food literacy classes, he was shy. When it came to eating fruits and vegetables, he would tell us, “I like fruits best. They taste better. Except celery. I like that.”

Each day in food literacy class, we give students like DeMone a new piece of produce to taste. We want kids to develop healthy habits and become food adventurers. The more produce we expose them to, the more excited the kids become about tasting new foods. 

This is especially important in a society where only 14% of us eat the daily recommended amounts of fruits and veggies.

In DeMone’s class, we taste a wide range of produce, including beets, kale, fennel and avocado.

“DeMone has learned so much,” says his mom. “At home, it influences his choices. He knows what foods he should eat less of, like junk food.”

This year, DeMone’s shyness melted away. In his third year of food literacy, DeMone has been exposed to a wide range of foods, but also to some amazing mentors in the community.

Chefs Jay and Dennis from local restaurant Ten22 invited DeMone to join them at the restaurant and cook in their professional kitchen. They presented DeMone with chefs whites, a coat he proudly wears.

“I know I earned this because I pay attention in food literacy class,” says DeMone as he rolled pizza dough to add to the kitchen’s wood fired oven. 

When asked what toppings he wanted to add to his pizza, DeMone glanced around at the wide assortment of cheese, meats and vegetables.

“Asparagus!” DeMone declared. “And bell peppers,” he added.

Today, DeMone loves both fruits *and* veggies! He hopes to be a chef when he grows up. 

“Chef Dennis is my mentor,” he says, “because he makes me laugh and taught me how to make pizza.”

These are the important skills DeMone and 2,399 other kids learn each year through food literacy classes. In a community with a 40% childhood obesity rate, learning to cook and to eat vegetables is critical to preventing diet-related diseases—and to building a lifetime of healthy habits.

“I like food literacy,” says DeMone as he bites into a carrot. “It rocks!”

Join us tomorrow, May 6, for the Big Day of Giving, a 24-hour online give-a-thon. Please donate to provide elementary school kids like DeMone with cooking and nutrition education. Support food literacy by following this link to give:

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