McCarron has spent the past 8 months volunteering as a part-time nutrition instructor at Walker Jones, which is a historically African American, title-one
high poverty school where 100 percent of the students receive free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She worked nights as a chef at Nora, a well-known, upscale
organic restaurant in downtown D.C.
A lot of excitement has surrounded her classes, from kids and parents alike, she says, though she had to get creative with the classes for lack of
"For most of my time here so far, we didn't have a working stove or a working oven. The projects we did were almost entirely raw -- a lot of raw fruits and
veggies, which is kind of hard in the winter," she explains. "I brought in a burner oven from work once to help out, but that's really all the equipment we
She had students make raw kale salads and healthy granola bars -- both big hits. The kids compared the fat content in different
milks, too, and during one opportunity when a local Whole Foods donated a batch of shrimp, the students made ceviche, which gave them a chance to learn
about the effects of citric acid.
But now, McCarron wants to make a bigger impact, and what she needs is a stove, for starters.
As broken down on the Kickstarter page, the $25,000 McCarron seeks to raise with Walker Jones would go toward cooking supplies (i.e. food), equipment
(induction burners, utensils, and the like), and personnel (McCarron's stipend).
Walker Jones is not the first school to turn to Kickstarter for funding a nutrition program, and it probably won't be the last. But the results so far have
, an elementary school in Iowa raised slightly more than its goals of $5,000 to put the finishing touches on their own teaching kitchen. Earlier this
month, an educational "truck farm" got the $11,000 it needed to stay on the road, serving Chicago
youngsters. A "Home and Garden Economics" project from L.A., however, was not as lucky -- it was able to raise only
a fraction of its $11,000 goal, which by Kickstarter rules means it got zilch.
In D.C., just three miles from Walker Jones, another elementary school scored one of the biggest successes so far when they raised over
$60,000. But it was not easy, says Bernadine Prince, co-founder and co-director of FreshFarm Markets, a non-profit that runs 11 of the D.C.-area's farmers'
markets. FreshFarm, which is also involved in nutrition education programs at local schools, partnered with Capitol Hill's Watkins Elementary to get their
"FoodPrints" program off the ground.
"When you first kick-off a Kickstarter campaign, the money starts flowing in, because all those people who already know about the project and have been
waiting for you to send the word out to donate, and you start seeing it add up very quickly," says Prince. Eventually that initial flood of enthusiasm and
money from friends and family levels off, however, and that's when things get hectic.