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Serving Up Life Skills to Teens

Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page HE09

The recipe might call for ground beef, but why not try something leaner, like ground turkey, instead? And for dessert: How about some fresh fruit? That's the nutrition-conscious approach Kris Woolery typically takes when she's helping teens prepare meals at Brainfood, a Columbia Heights nonprofit that sponsors healthy-cooking classes for District teens.

"I'm trying to create a culture . . . [where] we're trying to think about what we're eating," said Woolery, program director for the group, whose participants come mostly from low-income families.

A free six-week summer program, the Brainfood Summer Institute, offers teens an intensive course in healthy cooking and participation in community service activities. The program runs from July 5 through Aug. 12. Other activities include presentations on nutrition by medical professionals and cooking demonstrations by professional chefs, said Woolery.

The program's executive director, Paul Dahm, said the program is designed to keep participants so busy they will almost feel like they have a full-time job. With multiple commitments to juggle, participants also work on time management and other life skills, he said. "Some of it is basic academic improvement as well," said Dahm. "It's frightening how many people can't double a half-cup."

The program is open to 14 to 16 teenagers, age 15 and older. To apply, call Brainfood at 202-667-5515 or e-mail info@brain-food.orgby June 15. For more information on Brainfood's after-school program, see www.brain-food.org.

-- Samantha Sordyl

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