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Kidz Table Expands
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October 26, 2012
More than 40 percent of students in some Baltimore city neighborhoods are obese. In an effort to tackle the problem, city officials are promoting healthier eating habits through a series of events during this week’s Baltimore Food Week celebration. Among those was the opening of Kidz Table, a new food production facility that supplies 6,000 meals a day for local students. WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn has this report.
Chefs at Kidz Table are busy cutting fresh lettuce and tomatoes for colorful turkey wraps and turkey salad sandwiches.
There’s also fresh cabbage, kale, sweet potatoes, pasta, turkey enchiladas and an array of fruits. Most of these dishes are for Kidz Table’s ribbon cutting but they are the same as the more than 6,000 meals they cook daily for city Head Start students, day care centers, private schools and after-school programs.
"Almost everything on the menu is homemade."
Kathy Shulman is Kidz Table’s business development manager. She says they are conscious of the childhood obesity epidemic and do not cook with saturated fats or artificial ingredients and use minimal amounts of salt and sugar. Burgers and fries are not on the menu.
"We feel as though the children in our programs are getting burgers all the time, they’re getting fried foods all the time. And what we’re wanting to do is make the food home cooked say like a meatloaf but avoid the extra calories of a big bun, so we’re really trying to take what children love to eat and translate it into healthy meals."
Kidz Table was started two years ago in a church basement by St. Vincent DePaul of Baltimore officials. At the time, they felt the food they were receiving from vendors for their Head Start program contained too many fried and processed items. The word quickly spread about the freshly-prepared meals. Other clients signed up, like Rhonda Jackson, director of Morgan State University’s Head Start program.
"The fact that the food is attractive, the fact that the food is healthy, we’re feeling like that when we send our children home they are satisfied and they also feel as if they are well fed."
Jackson says Kidz Table also does a good job of providing meals for her students who have food allergies.
"We have a child that has a lot of allergies and they’ve gone as far as to say OK we need to bring rice milk for this particular child because I’ve had other vendors and they’ve ended up saying we just can’t do it."
In touring Kidz Table’s new facilities, Baltimore’s food policy director Holly Freishtat said their healthy meals effort is important because more than 31 thousand children in the city live in food deserts—communities where supermarkets and fresh produce outlets are a quarter of a mile away and vehicle ownership is low. Freishtat says …
Ninety percent of their sites are in food deserts and what that is showing is how Kidz Table is in partnership with Baltimore City to address food access issues.
With their expanded facility, Kidz Table officials say plan to provide more meals to children and have talked with city school officials about supplying food to some district schools that do not have full kitchens.
I’m Gwendolyn Glenn reporting in Baltimore for 88 1, WYPR.
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