Growing a local food culture begins with education… and no better place to begin than with youth! At Youth Opportunities Unlimited, this work has been happening for the last 13 years. This New Bedford non-profit provides inspiring “experiences” to local youth, one of those being their “Food for Thought” Cooking Program. In Food for Thought, kids acquire kitchen skills and an appreciation of healthy foods through hands-on workshops at the Dartmouth Grange. Each week a guest chef introduces a new recipe and cooking methods, leading kids in exciting discoveries as they explore the journey of food from soil to plate.
Food for Thought was developed in response Y.O.U. participant interest. Young people frequently found themselves home alone after school or caring for younger children, desiring the skills to prepare nourishing foods. This program empowers youth, developing the skills do so. Participants come from diverse backgrounds, so Food for Thought focuses on preparing culturally relevant foods while building awareness and interest in healthy, fresh ingredients.
Each year, youth venture to the next-door Alderbrook Farm to hand pick eggs, get friendly with resident animals, and experience local agriculture up close. This year will build upon that tradition, and each student group will follow their trip with a workshop focused solely on local foods. Youth will gather eggs and farm-fresh produce at Alderbrook, returning to the Grange to get cooking! Through this CSA-themed lesson, each student group will learn about local farmers markets and the Healthy Incentive Program. Participants will prepare an accessible recipe using common seasonal produce, and explore how they and their families can continue enjoying the area’s agricultural bounty at home.
Come spring time, learning takes to the garden. Spring Urban Explorers begin cultivating their very own chemical-free produce, bringing their harvest back to Y.O.U. as program snacks. Food culture and nutrition is infused throughout programs, as Y.O.U. believes that youth who develop this awareness now will soon be adults who support a strong local food system.
Want to learn more? Volunteer as a Food for Thought Guest Chef! Y.O.U. invites you to contact Executive Director Bernadette Souza at (508) 954-6586 or Bernadette@YOUnb.org for more information!