Thanks to her Southern roots, food took on the meaning of home and heart from an early age for De’Anna Dean. She was always underfoot in her mom’s kitchen, stealing raw potatoes and cabbage while she cooked, and family gatherings centered around local produce and celebrated the rich flavors developed in the heat of the Southern sun — vine-fresh tomatoes; buttery, sweet field peas; rich, ripe watermelon; and briny boiled peanuts. Studying nutrition in college gave her a new appreciation for food, and her home cooking evolved to include a wider variety of whole grains, spices, and cooking techniques.

De’Anna’s love of working with her hands and connecting with others doesn’t stop at the dinner table. Outside of the kitchen, you can find her practicing or teaching massage. And as the Pantry’s volunteer coordinator, she’s helping us build community around our own table every day!