Meet Brooklyn’s Newest Food Bloggers

Posted by on Jul 23, 2016 in cooking with kids, Food for thought, local food, news and happenings, Recipes, summer camp | 0 comments

Much like this abundance of summer sun and sweet produce, Butter Bean’s Food and Garden Camp has been full of sweet shining campers.

One of my favorite parts about working with our campers for an extended period of time is witnessing the individual characters and creative learning styles that each camper exhibits. Much like myself, most of our campers love hands on learning, like playing with worms to teach vermicomposting, or riding a bike to churn homemade ice cream that was made with only 6 ingredients! These were two of many inspiring field trips that our campers had the chance to experience. It was on these field trips that two of our older seasoned campers took it upon themselves to become food bloggers.

image4Every summer journals are given out for the campers to write their thoughts, recipes, questions, impressions, or pictures in.  Two of our Brooklyn campers, Aiden and Chloe, decided that they would also use their journals for food blogging. They have since been recording information at each and every field trip, asking the specialists questions while quickly jotting down notes. They also decided it was important to interview their peers and gather opinions on the food we tasted, noting favorites vs least favorites.

Not only was this dedication and focus impressive (and contagious with the other campers), but the next day after each field trip, our aspiring food bloggers brought in typed up reports of their research.

What we hope to provide here at Butterbeans camp is inspiration and knowledge about food and where it comes from. What I am continuously amazed by is how the campers use that inspiration and take action on learning even more!

FullSizeRender (7)I can’t say for certain, but look out for Aiden and Chloe, two inseparable friends who are always hungry for both good food and knowledge. They may just become New York’s youngest food writers.

This post was written by Annie Duffy, Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp Counselor & Food Educator

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A Taste of Hope

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in news and happenings, school food | 0 comments

HOPE-Logo-30th_Full-1Early in 2008 when Belinda DiGiambattista first came up with the idea for what was to become Butter Beans, she knew that she needed to increase her knowledge of the food service industry.

BlogPost_PaulShe turned to her new found friend and mentor Paul Neuman, an experienced and renowned caterer and Chairman of the Board of The HOPE Program  He suggested she contact the HOPE program in regards to searching for staff to serve lunch in her schools.  Thus began a relationship that has grown and strengthened over the years.  

Just as Butter Beans serves a unique and necessary niche for school lunches and wellness nutrition, the HOPE program does the same for the unemployed and underserved.  Located in downtown Brooklyn, the HOPE program creates opportunities for New Yorkers living in poverty or less-than-ideal situations to achieve economic self-sufficiency through employment and advancement.  

Their Food Works program consists of 8 weeks or 100 hours of intense training in all facets of the food service industry.  Students who qualify learn food and worksite safety, food prep skills and are given the information necessary to complete the Food Protection Certificate exam as well as the OSHA 10 certificate for general worksite safety.   

Incoming students must pass a rigorous admissions test, demonstrating basic knowledge of English and math.  They also must show up from 9 – 5 daily to learn necessary skills such as computer training, resume writing and interviewing.  After they have completed the required training they are placed as working interns with one of HOPE’s many partners.  

logo (4)Butter Beans, LiLac Chocolate, Murray’s Cheese, Finanicer, and Brooklyn Seltzer Boys are just a few of these organizations.  Janis Quarles, Business Development Manager for HOPE says that the HOPE students have a 73% placement rate and once they are hired at one of HOPE’s partner businesses they are offered continued support with other life skills.  

Butter Beans currently has 10 HOPE graduates on staff.  That is roughly 30% of all Butter Beans on-site  school staff.  Belinda describes the relationship as “special” and says that one of the many reasons she loves having students from HOPE intern for Butter Beans is that the internship process enables the students to get familiar with the Butter Beans philosophy and allows both parties to determine if they are a good fit while offering real world training for the intern.  

The mutual respect between the partners is clear as it continues to grow.  Eight years later Belinda describes Janis as “wonderful” and Janis says Belinda is “amazing”.  I can attest that both speak the truth.

On a personal note, in my role as Supervisor for a Butter Beans school client, I had the opportunity to conduct working interviews with several HOPE interns (all of which have since been hired).  I was impressed by the professionalism, skills and knowledge they brought to the kitchen.  Both organizations advocate and support sustainability of our most important resources:  food and people.    

Empowerment, integrity, dignity and professionalism.  Exemplified in this on-going and amazing partnership.  And again,  I am so proud to be a part of this evolution!

This post was written by Tammy Chalala, Butter Beans Food Service Supervisor 

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Trending Towards Healthy – The Year in Food

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in families, fast food, featured articles, Food for thought, food politics, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, school food, sustainability | 0 comments

Looking back at the year in food, we feel more strongly than ever that we are part of a larger movement towards healthier eating. As this article from NPR points out, evidence of these trends can be seen in the biggest producers. Reacting to consumer demands, even McDonald’s has taken steps to use healthier, more sustainably produced ingredients. This shows that clearly we are part of a larger movement changing how everyone eats, not just those already shopping at Whole Foods.

We at Butter Beans are often told that we are just providing good food to a small niche. This article proves that change we are part of is now reaching all parts of the food system and our “niche” is only growing. Sales of foods marketed towards health and sustainability conscious consumers surged in 2015, indicating that a much larger trend is only beginning. As the health benefits of nutritious eating become more and more apparent (especially for young kids in schools), all kinds of consumers are acting to create a change.

If you believe in critical tipping points that propel major changes, this past year hinted that one such shift may lie near on the horizon. Often the best way to measure the success of a movement is to follow the actions of the largest and most influential actors in the industry. The fact that big, highly profit-driven companies such as Kraft are seeking to include more natural ingredients in their products makes us hopeful for the future. Healthy foods are no longer just for yoga-moms and crunchy-foodies; now all kinds of Americans are showing concern for the kinds of foods carried by even large chain supermarkets and fast-food joints. This is how a paradigm shift occurs. At Butter Beans, we see everyday how we can shape the next generation of healthy, food-educated consumers to demand that America becomes a nation that embraces nutritious food.

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Employee Spotlight – Tania Lopez

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, featured articles, Food for thought, food politics, giving, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, wellness | 0 comments

This week we highlight the incredible work of Tania Lopez, our school lunch supervisor at Nord Anglia International School. Outside of her work at Butter Beans, Tania founded an organization called Coqui the Chef which works to promote healthy eating in her home community of the South Bronx.

Check out this video, “Kids Cooking for a Brighter Future,” to catch a glimpse of Tania’s interactive and educational classes and hear her talk about why she finds this work so important in food deserts like the South Bronx.

In her series of fun, interactive, and informative cooking videos for children, Tania hopes to directly combat the current trends of childhood obesity. For Tania, this national epidemic can be felt strongest closest to home where a walk around any block will reveal a plethora of fast food joints, but very little in the way of fresh produce. Tania believes that this makes nutritional education all the more essential in these communities. Tania is using powerful community-based and culturally relevant education to build a healthier South Bronx from within, resisting the profit making forces of corporate fast food and the industrial global food system.

Tania says that working at Butter Beans has given her valuable perspective on how kids eat. While engaging at lunchtime with kids of different communities and backgrounds from her own, Tania has been able learn a lot learn how to best educate all kinds of children about healthy eating. For Tania, there is little more inspiring than seeing all sorts of communities come together over good food.

We’re so proud of Tania for taking the passion we all have for healthy eating education back to her own community. She is currently working hard to secure funding and hopes to expand her web episodes to a full television series. In this format, Tania hopes to reach a wider audience and connect communities across the city that also exist in food deserts.

Watch a trailer and full episode of her show below!

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Employee Spotlight – Jermaul

Posted by on Dec 15, 2015 in Food for thought, healthy food, lunch time, news and happenings, nutrition, school food | 0 comments

IMG_1133This week we begin a feature where we put the spotlight on a Butter Beans employee who is critical to everything we do but doesn’t get outward attention.

First up, ace delivery man Jermaul. Jermaul plays an essential role in getting our food fresh and on time to the schools. Jermaul has been with Butter Beans for two years and he quickly has become our “do everything” man, keeping the operation of getting food to nine schools under control, on time, and running smoothly.

Jermaul grew up in St. Louis before moving out to New York to join his brother in Brooklyn. Jermaul likes that Butter Beans uses all natural foods and feels invested in the mission. As a father himself, he knows the importance of kids eating healthy foods at lunch. Outside of his job at Butter Beans, ball is life – Jermaul is a sports fanatic who is always ready to tell you about the night’s big match-up.

We can’t imagine how Butter Beans would run without Jermaul!

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whole food explorers

Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 in after school, cooking classes, cooking with kids, exercise, families, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, Recipes, seasonal, seasonal food of the month, wellness | 0 comments

IMG_2754This past week we had the pleasure of hosting a kids food exploration class at Whole Foods – Upper West Side in celebration of National Fruits & Vegetables Month.

Our class consisted of a melange of using our 5 senses to experience these new and unusual foods, along with stretching our bodies as we learned about the important nutrients present in these delicacies.

We were truly impressed at not only the turnout that we received, but also how enthusiastic and open minded our food explorers were!

On the menu we explored these tasty recipes:

  • ramp butter
  • pickled and blanched fiddlehead ferns
  • santa claus melon & basil soup

Our brave food explorers mixed together freshly chopped ramps, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and whipped it all up into a delectable spread for their fresh pieces of bread. Boy, was that butter a favorite!

FullSizeRender-2Then they ventured onto the fiddlehead ferns, unfurling their leaves and learning that they can grow 6 feet tall! Tasting it blanched, then pickled our explorers shared their observations of the different preparations on their food explorer handouts. 

Lastly, we ended our food adventures with a chilled melon basil soup made from santa claus melon – named that way since it’s usually the go-to melon available during christmas time. They couldn’t get enough! 

We are ever grateful for our friends at Whole Foods UWS for inviting us to excite and expand the palates of our participants in celebration of National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month!

Stay tuned for more food adventures to come!

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