receiving a pre-stocked box.
Manna tries to address the “root
causes” of hunger by educating families on how to buy and prepare healthy
meals on a limited budget. Last year the
program refitted an old school bus, nicknamed “Manny,” as a mobile kitchen,
classroom and “pop-up pantry.” One of
its main uses: showing up at an elementary school with a lot of low-income
students and teaching fourth- and fifth-graders the basics of healthy eating.
Youngsters that age, especially in
immigrant families, often act as emissaries for their elders, bringing home
language and cultural skills, and the
hope is that they will educate their
parents about the benefits of squash
casseroles instead of Big Macs. Sodexo,
the international food service company
whose U.S. headquarters is in Gaithersburg, was so impressed with Manna’s
e;orts that the company’s Stop Hunger
Foundation gave DeCarlo their global
“Women Stop Hunger” award in Paris
She tells the story of a recent visit
Manny made to Germantown Elementary School. After one youngster tried
roasted cauliflower for the first time, he
decided that it tasted like “popcorn” and
asked for more. ;e next day, his mother
reported, the boy suggested they go to
the grocery store and buy the vegetable
so he could show her how to prepare it.
DeCarlo shows me a “hunger heat
map” of Montgomery County with areas
of “critical need” highlighted in red. ;ey
show up in Damascus and Germantown,
Gaithersburg and Silver Spring, and
increasingly along the county’s eastern
border in towns like Fairland and White
Oak. She points at the red spots and outlines her future goals: “We want those to
change color.” ■
Steve Roberts teaches journalism and
politics at George Washington University.
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