A non-profit based in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, Food for Thought has worked to fight child hunger throughout Walton and Okaloosa Counties since 2010, providing 3,000 backpacks weekly that are filled with healthy ingredients for students who are dependent on free or reduced school meals.
With the support of a three-year $125,000 grant from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Food for Thought launched its Full Circle Kitchen program in September of last year. Offered to high schoolers enrolled in Food for Thought, the program introduces students to fundamental cooking skills through classes taught by community restaurant partners and local chefs.
High school senior Lucy Lopez and junior Donnell Reed are two students benefiting from the program’s efforts to provide youth a foundation for basic cooking skills and access to kitchen equipment in a safe learning environment.
I believe this program is good because it shows students skills they may not know already and helps kids in the long run,” said Lucy. “I’ve learned something new in every class I’ve gone to.
In this fully functional teaching kitchen, Lucy and Donnell have enjoyed learning the basics of cuisine and learning to cook some of their favorite dishes, including enchiladas, broccoli chicken, Thai curry chicken and a barbecue sauce consisting of Diet Coke and ketchup.
Full Circle Kitchen gives students an opportunity to learn cooking beyond regular school work,” said Donnell. “A typical class is filled with students with bright minds who want to learn. My favorite part is meeting the staff that work there.
The skills acquired and lessons learned through Full Circle Kitchen have even inspired the career paths of its students. Donnell aspires to become a chef and wants to pursue culinary school following graduation, and Lucy plans to attend school for hospitality in the hopes of one day managing her own hotel.
The grant from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation supports capital needs, operating expenses and programming efforts associated with the program’s teaching kitchen.
Emeril Lagasse Foundation is proud to support organizations like Full Circle Kitchen that are enabling students like Lucy and Donnell to develop skills and a strong culinary foundation. Learn more about how you can get involved or make a donation by visiting our Get Involved page.