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News for Healthy Corners

, April 7th, 2014

New Dehydrator Prevents Food Waste, Provides Healthy Snacks

Dehydrator Reduces Food Waste
Thanks to our friends at the CoStar Group, we now have a dehydrator at our Nutrition Lab that allows us to extend the life of fruit that would otherwise go to waste while creating new options for our line of Healthy Corners snacks.

Terence Hill, a graduate of our 93rd Culinary Job Training class, has been experimenting with dehydrating a variety of fruits including apples, bananas and pineapples that are approaching their sell by date. Produce items that may only have a couple good days left in their fresh state can last for months when properly dehydrated.

Healthy Corners will be incorporating these dried fruits into new varieties of trail mix, one of our most popular products, as well as selling them as stand-alone snacks. Terence is hard at work perfecting these new items, and they will roll out in our participating corner stores this summer.

Thanks to the CoStar Group for helping us bring these new products to our stores!

, March 21st, 2014

Combating Food Waste Through Healthy Corners

Fresh Cut Watermelon

Fresh Cut Watermelon is one of the latest “Grab and Go” items offered at participating Healthy Corners stores.

At DC Central Kitchen, we believe waste is wrong – whether it’s leftover food, local produce, or human potential. We’re always working to come up with unique approaches to combating waste and Healthy Corners has leveraged the power of food recycling and its relationships with local distributors to bring more affordable healthy snacks to DC’s low income communities.

Participating Healthy Corners stores are now selling fresh cut watermelon thanks to our relationship with Coastal Sunbelt Produce. During the fall and winter months, Coastal Sunbelt Producesources premium watermelon from abroad for upscale grocers, selling only the very innermost portion of the melon. The remaining layers of fresh edible watermelon were going to waste until they reached out to us to see if we would be interested in buying it at a reduced price. These perfectly edible, fresh, whole watermelons are completely intact, except for the core that was removed. Our Healthy Corners Team knew that fresh cut watermelon would be a perfect grab-and-go snack for sale in our corner stores.

Huan Song, DCCK’s Outreach Coordinator, tells us that fresh cut watermelon is very popular with customers. We’re excited to be able to offer a customer favorite at reduced prices during the off season.

The fresh cut watermelon is just one of our latest offerings through Healthy Corners. In the next few months, DCCK will be rolling out new healthy but affordable prepared snacks and meals packed with fresh produce to make it easier for families to eat healthier.

, March 20th, 2014

Providing Healthier Versions of Familiar Snacks

Better For You Brownies

Kids at Washington Jesuit Academy taste testing our new “Black Bean Brownie”, a healthier brownie to be offered through Healthy Corners.

Over the past three years DC Central Kitchen’s Healthy Corners has gained many loyal customers who visit their local corner store on regular basis to pick up an apple, banana or some cut fruit as a snack on the go.  While the display of fresh produce is a welcome site for many shoppers, plenty of customers continue to shop based on deeply ingrained eating habits developed over years, heading straight for shelf filled with honey buns, cookies and snack cakes.

DC Central Kitchen’s Janell Walker, a Registered Dietitian, is looking to lure these shoppers over to the Healthy Corners display with new, healthier snack options. The first addition to this new line of healthier snacks is black bean brownies, which are due to hit stores by the end of March.

I think of these healthier versions of popular snacks as a gateway to healthier eating. Customers who aren’t coming to the store looking for fresh produce need something that they are more familiar with to introduce them to the Healthy Corners product line. We’re meeting them in the middle. Janell Walker, DC Central Kitchen

The new better for you brownies are made with black beans, cocoa powder, oats, chocolate chips and maple syrup and have 115 calories per serving.

Last week, Huan Song, DCCK’s Outreach Coordinator, held a taste test at Washington Jesuit Academy to get feedback from students. Huan explains that at Healthy Corners product demonstrations, taste testers old and young are usually a little hesitant on the first bite.

So what did students think about the black bean brownies? One said “These are too good to be true!” Other students encouraged hesitant friends to take a bite, saying “taste it, it’s actually really good.” Of the 75 students who tasted the brownie bites, 68 said that they liked the taste of the brownie.

Now that the brownies have passed the taste test, you can look forward to seeing them on our Healthy Corners displays soon!

, March 17th, 2014

Healthy Corners Update with Janell Walker and Huan Song

Juan and Janell from DCCK

Huan Song and Janell Walker are leading Healthy Corners, DC Central Kitchen’s program to combat food deserts by making fresh food more available.

We recently caught up with Janell Walker and Huan Song, the new team behind Healthy Corners, to get some updates on what they’re working on and where the program is headed. Healthy Corners is DC Central Kitchen’s program to combat food deserts by making fresh produce and healthy snacks more available through corner stores.

What are your roles with Healthy Corners?

Janell: As the Director of Community Nutrition and Outreach, my role within Healthy Corners is to oversee the operations and identify methods to expand our reach and enhance our products. I am also the registered dietitian and use my nutrition expertise to ensure we are offering nutritious foods that are attractive and exciting.

Huan: As the Community Outreach and Nutrition Coordinator, my role in the program is to coordinate its day-to-day operations including processing customer inputs, identifying new stores, collaborating with other grassroots organizations, and hosting outreach events.

What are some recent accomplishments that you are proud of?

Huan: I’m really excited about formalizing our measurement tool to evaluate the nutrition environment of our stores using the Nutritional Environment Measurement Survey which is a national survey developed through the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve started using the NEMS survey to evaluate a store prior to our intervention and we plan to follow up after our intervention to see if Healthy Corners has changed the overall nutritional landscape in the neighborhood.

Are you working on any upcoming products that you’re able to talk about?

Janell: We are currently working on developing healthy meals for busy families. We realize that one of the biggest barriers to eating healthy is time and cost. Our proposed items will give parents the opportunity to provide healthy meals for their family that will cut preparation time in half. These meals will also be affordable to erase the stigma about healthy food being expensive.

Where is Healthy Corners headed?

Janell: 2014 for Healthy Corners is all about growth. We plan to double our program by the end of the year and continue to work with local communities and organizations to spread awareness about what Healthy Corners has to offer. In expanding our program, we are using new methods to increase efficiency and enhance our brand as a produce distributor. We always keep DCCK’s mission in mind and continue to educate ourselves on how we can further impact the community through food and empowerment.

Tell us about how you are improving the Healthy Corners program through the use of technology:

Huan: Geographic Information Systems play an important role in daily our decision making! One function that we use GIS for is to find potential areas to target our Healthy Corners expansion. What we have done first was to map the percentage of residents living under the poverty level in every DC neighborhood listed in the US census. Then we plotted all the existing and planned full scale supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers markets. We crossed referenced these two data sets to query for neighborhoods that have both high rates of poverty and is far away (at least 0.25 miles) from any food retailers.

Another way we use GIS is to integrate all of our programs across DCCK. For example, we’ve identified areas that are within a walking distance (0.25 miles) from the schools and after school programs we serve. We can then strategically target corner stores in those areas to reinforce the nutrition education at every food touch-point.

We’ve also switched to a digital ordering system in January where our driver, Trevon, uses an iPad to take orders and the orders gets process in real time through our accounting department. We are currently creating an inventory app to digitize our internal procurement process and manage waste.

, February 27th, 2014

Washington City Paper Features Healthy Corners

Last week, the Washington City Paper’s Jessica Sidman followed our drivers as they delivered fresh produce and healthy snacks to our Healthy Corner stores. Check out this excellent in-depth feature about Healthy Corners, our groundbreaking program to combat DC’s food deserts.

Click here for article.

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