Eat Your Veggies!

By: Kristen Pinto

Want to know the secret to getting kids to eat their vegetables? Cheese. Today, I told the kids at the Little Friends for Peace (LFFP) Youth Development program at the Perry School Community Center that we would be making chips. Instead of artificial-orange-dusted cheddar chips, we made parmesan-sprinkled kale chips. And they were a success!

Thanks to the Public Service Grant Commission, I have had the opportunity to lead weekly cooking and nutrition lessons at the LFFP youth program. Every Tuesday, we cook a healthy dish and talk about an issue related to the food system and/or food culture.  For example, when we talked about where our food comes from in the world, we made a salad full of ingredients that originated elsewhere. Each kid was given a mason jar, which they shook like crazy, to make salad dressing. It was entertaining to see their noses scrunch up when they caught a whiff of the balsamic vinegar in it.

The PSGC grant has helped introduce the kids to new foods and cultures. From millet to feta to kiwi, we have tried a variety of interesting flavors! So far, we have also talked about dishes from Chile, France, and India.

With help from the PSGC, I have been able to integrate physical health into Little Friends for Peace’s social-emotional health program. After becoming certified by The Cookbook Project as a Food Literacy Educator, I worked with Little Friends for Peace to bring a fun nutrition curriculum to a community with which they serve. A goal of the program is to foster a holistic sense of wellness and practice teamwork by enabling the kids to work in small groups to prepare a healthy snack or meal. We seek to encourage the kids to try healthier options and adopt them into their diet. Expanding diet diversity and sparking an interest in the food system at a young age, we hope this program will ignite a curiosity for cooking and eating healthfully.

Each week I learn a bit more about what they like to eat. Over the past few months, cucumbers, coconut, and cheese have brought much excitement to the kitchen. I look forward to the next four months. We have the history of chocolate, gardening, a community meal, and more food cultures in our future!

For more information about The Cookbook Project:

For more information about Little Friends for Peace:



Financial Literacy for ALL!

By: Alice Murray

One of the best things about being at a higher education institution is the opportunity to turn your crazy ideas into reality. When I saw a group of middle school girls get onto the metro together one day, I was reminded of the World Bank’s Girl Effect – focusing on 12 year old girls to tackle issues surrounding poverty. How could this mentality be used domestically? How could I play a part in empowering girls at this crucial age to take ownership of their future and create a healthy and stable life for themselves and their families?

While it may not seem like the obvious answer, I landed on jewelry making. A skill that I have and am willing to share, beading offers entrepreneurial opportunities in a fun and creative format. The Public Service Grant Commission funded my project to bring basic financial literacy lessons to a group of girls at Washington Global Public Charter School through BEAD: Beading for Entrepreneurial Advancement and Development.

Every Thursday afternoon my girl gang meets to hear about a successful female entrepreneur, have discussions about profit, pricing strategy, and budgeting, and make some wearable art. At the end of the 10-week program we’ll be taking a field trip together to Eastern Market so sell the fruits of our labor and experience business in action.

It’s a small dent in a large issue. Financial literacy rates are lower in areas with lower median incomes, for minority populations, and among women and girls (see Social Security Administration Data here). Additionally, only 4% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are female ( and empowering girls in business continues to be important to major women’s rights activists like Melinda Gates.

Thanks to the Public Service Grant Commission I can try my hand at research-based interventions that face these intersectional issues head on. We are in the third week of our curriculum with a group of nine 6th and 7th grade girls. It will be exciting to evaluate this program at the end of the semester.

To get more news about BEAD follow Washington Global Public Charter School on social media here:

…and look out for future announcements about our Eastern Market sale date!

Learning from Experience: Why Green Spaces Matter

By: Max Grossman

I remember when I wrote the Perry Peace Garden Project proposal I used two studies to argue the project’s importance. One claimed green space positively affects child development and the other proposed green spaces in poorer urban areas are few.

This argument seems logical enough, but after some reflection, it also appears somewhat hollow.
What does it mean to positively affect child development and why do kids need access to places that do it?’

A month into the program, during which time LFFP’s students have spent ample time in LFFP’s peace garden and afternoons at DC Green’s K Street Farm, I think I’ve nailed down three concrete examples to back my case.

I claim no degree in Child Psychology, however below are the three reasons gardens are constructive:

Gardens allow students to discover:

Discover what you might ask? Worms, how bees make honey, why a fruit is a fruit, how a rain barrel works, what a praying mantis eats, where toothpaste’s mint flavor comes from… the list could go on. What is unique about these questions is that students got to interact with answers. They felt a praying mantis, peered into the rain barrel, and tasted honey. Certainly interfacing with these what they are studying makes kids want to continue asking questions.
Gardens provide students space:

Schools, and LFFP’s youth development program for that matter, are congested environments. Filled with kids, teachers, faculty, their winding hallways and windowless classrooms are overly clutter. Gardens do not face this issue. In this sense, kids can learn in their own space at their own pace. Those that want to explore every plant can, and those that would rather work with only one can too. Peers do not interfere with each others’ experience. Additionally, to kids, gardens are BIG. Add large plants and walkways and programs seem less like activities and more like adventures.

Gardens bring students joy.

I say with confidence that LFFP’s students are happy outside. Some kids hum, others zone in on their digging, most kids laugh and play. In any case, this joy is key for cooperation, inclusion, and dare I say peace!

At any rate, these first few weeks have brought meaning to the proposal I made months ago. With more afternoon garden adventures, and the upcoming rain barrel installation, my list of three will certainly grow.