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Volunteer Program Looking for Help to Close the ‘Meal Gap’

There are 17,000 Arlingtonians living without access to affordable, nutritious food, but the planners behind the “Master Food Volunteer” program are hoping you can help change that.

The Master Food Volunteer (MFV) program is run through the Virginia Cooperative Extension. The program offers 30 hours in training on nutrition, meal planning, cooking techniques, food safety and working with a diverse audience. In turn, the volunteers are expected to perform 30 hours of community service using their training to help underserved populations become more familiar with affordable healthy eating practices.

The training takes place on four Fridays throughout October. There is a $120 fee for the program that covers the cost of lunches, training materials, an apron, tote bag, and supplies. Applications are available at the Master Food Volunteer website. Applications are due by Aug. 27.

“We do a lot of work with organizations like the Arlington Food Assistance Center to provide food demonstrations at their food distribution site using ingredients many people are not familiar with,” said Jennifer Abel, senior extension agent for Arlington and Alexandria. “That way people can take the recipes and learn how to use vegetables they might not be familiar with, like summer squash and eggplant.”

Many MFV activities are aimed at helping Arlington’s senior citizens who may have limited access to grocery stores. The MFV program is also active in Arlington’s farmers’ markets, like the Aug. 25 market at Courthouse and the Sept. 8 farmers’ market at Arlington Mill.

“In general, vegetable consumption among Americans is lower than it should be, while sugar consumption is much higher,” said Abel. “We’re doing pretty well on fruits, because they’re nice and sweet, but it’s tougher a lot of times to get people to eat a zucchini.”

Photo via Virginia Cooperative Extension

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‘Superfood Cafe’ Vitality Bowls Coming Soon to Rosslyn

A business billing itself as a “superfood cafe” is on track to open soon in Rosslyn.

Vitality Bowls is set to arrive on the ground floor of 1515 Wilson Blvd “by the end of this summer,” according Mackenzie Coopman, a representative for the company.

The California-based restaurant chain specializes in “acai bowls,” which are blends of the “superfood” berry topped with ingredients such as bananas, strawberries and granola. Other menu options include smoothies, juices salads and paninis. All of the cafe’s food is organic, according to its website.

“Conveniently situated at the busy intersection of Wilson Boulevard and Oak Street, local residents, professionals and students will have easy access to healthier food options while out and about,” Coopman said.

Vitality Bowls claims that it plans to open 10-20 locations in Arlington and the D.C. area. The company currently has 20 locations across the U.S. and says it has another 30 “in development.”

Local entrepreneurs Anisha Sharma, Narender Neerukonda and Raghu Gondi are leading the opening of the forthcoming eatery in Rosslyn.

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‘Protein Bar’ Coming Soon to Ballston

A restaurant putting its attention on healthy food will be coming to Ballston. The Chicago chain Protein Bar is branching out and planning locations in Arlington and D.C.

Signs are up on the ground floor of the building under construction at 800 N. Glebe Road, but there’s not much visible progress on the site yet.

Protein Bar’s website says the mission is to “provide active, on-the-go people with healthy, flavorful choices while having a positive impact on everyone we meet and in everything we do.”

The strong focus on health comes through on the menu, where nutritional information for each dish is clearly listed. Everything on the menu is less than 600 calories.

Many of the dishes include quinoa instead of rice, such as the restaurant’s signature “Bar-ritos,” which are also made with low calorie wheat wraps. Protein Bar claims the quinoa makes their burritos have half the calories of most others. There are also salads, chilis and blended drinks.

On its website, Protein Bar says it expects to open in Ballston “later in the summer.”

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South Block Smoothie & Burrito Co. Plans Wed. Opening

Update at 4:30 p.m. — South Block just said via Twitter that due to a “slight snag” with the county’s zoning office, it may not open on Wednesday, after all. The Friday giveaways, however, are still on for now.

South Block Smoothie & Burrito Co. (3011 11th Street N.), a new health-oriented eatery in Clarendon, is planning to serve its first customers tomorrow afternoon.

Ladders and power tools still clutter the inside of the store, but work is expected to wrap up in anticipation of tomorrow’s hoped-for 3:00 p.m. opening. South Block offers a variety of fruit smooties, Acai bowls, “wholesome” burritos, soups, as well as other healthy fare like wheatgrass juice, oatmeal and yogurt (Greek or frozen).

South Block will have a more formal introduction to the Clarendon community on Friday, when it gives away free smoothies to the first 200 people in line at 3:00 p.m. Coconut water manufacturer Vita Coco will also be on hand on Friday, offering free samples, according to store management.

As reported in May, the store is owned by Amir Mostafavi, who owns the Campus Fresh store in George Washington University’s Lerner Health & Wellness Center.

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Ice Cream, Smoothies Coming Soon to Clarendon

Health nuts and sweet tooths will both have something to celebrate as two new stores prepare to open in Clarendon this summer.

South Block Smoothie & Burrito Co. is telling fans on Facebook that it hopes to open at the corner of 11th and Garfield Streets “around the 4th of July.” The store will offer real fruit smoothies, whole wheat burritos, salad wraps, acai bowls and Pleasant Pops, according to its web site.

South Block is located in a 714-square-foot storefront on the ground floor of the Clarendon Center project’s ‘south block’ building. It’s being launched by Amir Mostafavi, who owns the Campus Fresh store in George Washington University’s Lerner Health & Wellness Center.

A couple of blocks away from South Block’s health-conscious vibe, Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream is planning on opening at 3018 Wilson Boulevard, in the Clarendon Center project’s ‘north block’ building. Signs in the window say Larry’s will open on June 15.

The location is the second for Larry’s Homemade — which currently has a store in Crystal City. Larry’s will offer locally-sourced and produced ice cream, as well as sundaes, shakes, non-fat yogurt, espresso drinks, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, biscotti, muffins, pastries and baklava.

According to its web site, Larry’s 40+ ice cream flavors include exotic options like ginger, green tea, Kahlua, lychee, cardamom, orange chocolate chunk and lemon grass.

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