Paul Dahm and Brainfood Encourage Youth in the Kitchen

Wednesday, 22. June 2011 19:12 | Author:

Paul Dahm is no stranger to the philanthropic and nonprofit communities in the Washington, D.C. area, but his current position as the executive director of Brainfood may be the most exciting.

Brainfood, which first opened its doors in the city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood in 1999, is a youth development organization that provides structured activities during after-school hours for high school students. Activities include shopping, measuring, collaborating and presenting, and teaching students life skills through one of the world’s most ancient traditions: cooking. When the program first began, students completed a twelve-week after-school program in the kitchen of a local community center. Since then, Brainfood has expanded to offer year-round after-school programs in two commercial kitchens and a five week summer program. Students who have participated in the Brainfood programs have gone on to pursue careers as cooks and chefs in the D.C. area.

Dahm believes that by preparing food together, students will learn skills that can also be applied outside the kitchen; skills like teamwork, accountability and creativity. On a more focused level, students increase their proficiency in reading and basic math while following and preparing recipes. “The process of cooking with others affords so many learning opportunities that translate to other areas of life,” Dahm said in an interview the Meyer Foundation.

Before serving as Brainfood’s Executive Director, Dahm worked as a director at Orr Associates, a D.C. consulting firm assisting the city’s nonprofit community. He also worked for the area’s Make-A-Wish foundation in many capacities. Dahm currently serves as a board member for the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates.

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