After the three-day program, students receive a “salad kit” (which serves four), that allows them to show their families what they learned by creating a salad together at home. (Courtesy photo)

By Daryl Moore
Special to the AFRO

Since schools closed over a year ago because of the global pandemic, there are many areas that have been affected. One issue that does not get a lot of attention, however, is the burden of undernutrition for children who get their meals from school.

To help ease some of that burden, TasteWise Kids now offers salad kits as part of their Days of Taste program. 

TasteWise Kids is a Baltimore-based nonprofit organization (501c3) dedicated to inspiring kids to explore and experience the world of food and its sources through discovery-based programming. “In a nutshell, we teach kids about where their food comes from and help them to build healthy eating habits,” said Wendy Jeffries, the executive director of TasteWise Kids. “Our goal is to bring individuals, families, and communities together around food-inspiring healthy choices that lead to open-mindedness and well-being.”

Jeffries said that TasteWise Kids is committed to providing food education in our local community with the ultimate goal of empowering individuals to make healthy food choices.  “As a food focused organization,” Jeffries said, “we hold up that food, cooking and the sharing of what we make together are some of the best ways to showcase and celebrate both our diversity and our commonality. We have been doing, and continue to do, the hard work related to DEI, (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and centering racial equity in both our programming and as an organization.” 

In the Days of Taste program, kids have the opportunity to discover that good taste, nutritious foods, and good health naturally go together. The program is designed for fourth graders, consists of three sessions, and is designed to be a value-added experience that is provided within the school day. 

Here’s how it works: 

First, students work with a professional chef to sample diverse foods and to recognize the four basic tastes. The second session is typically a farm trip where students learn firsthand how vegetables are grown and animals are raised. Next, guided by the chef, students work to make their own salad and dressing.  After the three-day program, students receive a “salad kit” (which serves four), that allows them to show their families what they learned by creating a salad together at home. Due to COVID-19, the Days of Taste program has gone virtual, implementing a three-part video series to mimic each of the three days, with synchronous zoom follow ups with our chef and farm partners. 

“We are excited that this model has allowed us to both show each student a more diverse offering of chefs and farms, and also enabled us to reach families while students learned virtually at home,” Jeffries said.

Recognizing the unmet need for fun educational programming that teaches kids where food comes from while also fostering healthy eating habits, TasteWise Kids took over the operation of the Days of Taste program in 2015. 

“Days of Taste has been in the Baltimore area since 1998,” said Jeffries. “Many of our TasteWise Kids community, including our executive director and key staff, volunteered with Days of Taste before starting TasteWise Kids.”

A variety of local chefs,  including the minds behind Foraged. eatery, Gertrudes, Atwaters, Ekiben, Gundalow Gourmet and more, have volunteered to be part of this effort to raise money and feed students and families in Baltimore. 

The money raised from National Salad month (which took place in May), will be used to purchase salad kits for students in Baltimore City so they can enjoy a fresh, healthy meal at home with their family. “This ultimately exposes children and their families to healthy eating and flavor exploration,” Jeffries said.

In the Days of Taste program created by TasteWise Kids, youth have the opportunity to discover that good taste, nutritious foods, and good health naturally go together. (Courtesy photo)

In the spring of 2020, TasteWise Kids provided approximately 50 salad kits; likewise in the summer of that same year. Those kits went to the Cherry Hill and Patterson Park neighborhoods, with produce from CHUGG (Cherry Hill Urban Community Garden) and Oliver St. Garden. During the 2020-2021 School Year, approximately four schools were provided 300 salad kits. 

But Jeffries aims to do more: “We plan to continue to grow our Days of Taste program so we can reach more schools and students. Pre-COVID we were in about 40 schools a year and we are hoping to get back to that now that we have been successful at transitioning the program to work in virtual and hybrid educational spaces.” 

Furthermore, TasteWise Kids plans to continue and grow their programming over the next year. Hence, they are currently implementing their TWKatHome program.  TWKatHome started as a response to COVID as a way to ensure kids, families, and teachers had quality food and nutrition content when they could not do Days of Taste in the Spring of 2020. However, since then, TWKatHome has grown into a core part of their programming.

“TWKatHome provides free fun online content directly to students and families,” Jeffries said. “Our easy to use, simple activities and resources provide engaging ways to learn about food and build positive, healthy eating habits. We also have an ‘Ask an Expert’ feature that highlights local Baltimore food professionals like bakers, food activists, and restaurant managers.”

“We have recently started to build off the content in our TWKatHome program to develop TWK Community Programs,” Jeffries said. “This new program area will focus on a specific theme related to healthy eating that we can offer to after school programs, reaction centers, and other community-based groups/organizations.” This is currently in the pilot phase however.

Even more impressive, TasteWise Kids employees work virtually and do not have an office space. The majority of their small team lives in Baltimore City, but they currently work in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford County and Howard County. 

“While we often get requests to branch into other counties,” Jeffries said, “we are currently focused on improving and expanding our program offerings in our current jurisdictions. The good news is with our TWKatHome content, we can now offer programming materials and opportunities to kids and families anywhere.” 

“The salad kits have been a big success with kids and families,” Jeffries said. TasteWise Kids sees it as their job to inspire our next generation to make educated choices about the foods they eat today, so that they develop positive, healthy eating habits tomorrow. For more information, visit

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