Multiple cooks from the Cody Child Development Center traveled out of state, at different times, from June to August to learn how to prepare healthier foods for toddlers, teenagers and the adults who care for them.

Godchagon (Mint) Leiner, Ricky Tyree, Christina Benson and Grace Parker, cooks at the CDC, traveled to Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., where they relearned kitchen decorum -- for example, kitchen sanitation -- and how to properly prepare healthier food that potentially will be implemented into the CDC's food menu, one that is used in their children and teen programs, in the spring.

"Each day, we went into a kitchen, and they showed us how to measure the food and how to cook it," said Christina Benson, who attended the last training in August 2016. "We already serve healthy food to them, but we want to increase their fruit and vegetable intake."

The CDC is changing its menu because of a bill passed by Congress back in 2010 titled Healthy, Hunger- Free Kids Act. According to a document from the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, "[the] act required changes in U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutritional Programs, to include the Child and Adult Care Food Program."

"These patterns also include changes in the infant meal pattern that are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some of these changes directly affect our menus, and some are suggested best practices," reads the document.

Leiner, the lead cook at the CDC, said there will be a slight change to the breakfast menu, which entails the team adding banana bread. However, she said the lunch and snack menus will be replaced. For example, a chicken patty sandwich, diced pears, sweet potato fries and milk could be replaced with stir fry chicken with butternut squash, crushed pineapple, corn, bell pepper and milk.

On top of the menu revamp, Benson said they will be giving toddlers, teenagers and adults smaller portions of the meat, but their vegetable and fruit portions will increase. Benson said they are currently giving all the children two ounces of meat -- but, if the menu is approved, it will decrease to one ounce for pre-toddlers and 1.5 ounces for teenagers.

Recommending kids and adults eat less meat is, scientists claim, not only good for the body but also good for the environment. Last year, Fiona Harvey, an environmental journalist at The Guardian, a news organization, wrote that scientists at the Oxford Martin School found that a decrease in meat intake or converting to a vegetarian diet would decrease greenhouse gases.

"Adhering to health guidelines on meat consumption could cut global food-related emissions by nearly a third by 2050, the study found, while widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63 percent," according to The Guardian.

Yet, before the CDC can move forward, the menu has to be approved by leadership, and if approved, it will be introduced to parents. The CDC has decided it will hold two taste tests: one for the staff (Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m.) and the other for parents (Feb. 23 at 4:30 p.m.).

Parents, guests and faculty will have a chance to taste banana bread, Swiss chard frittata or spinach, roasted fish crispy wrap, arugula lemon pesto pasta salad and a Mediterranean quinoa salad.

For more information contact the Cody Child Development Center at 703-696-3095.

Pentagram Staff Writer Delonte Harrod can be reached at