Excelsior Youth Center is happy to welcome our new Kitchen Manager, Cindy Quincy, to the team. Beyond her managerial role, Cindy has dedicated herself to giving back to the girls in a way that will give them appetite for cooking! Cindy is implementing a new cooking program that will use the cafeteria kitchen to help the girls develop life skills and learn about sanitation, nutrition, health & wellness, and having fun with their food.
Each monthly class is specialized to serve a particular cottage on campus, taking into account the different ages, goals, and interests of the girls. Centennial Cottage House, for instance, accommodates the youngest girls on campus so their cooking experience focused on having fun and developing an appreciation for food. They explored Mexican recipes, making chile rellenos from scratch and nachos with a large selection of ingredients. In contrast, our older girls from Sequoia Cottage focused on cooking as a life skill. They explored budgeting and learned how meals with several ingredients differ from meals with limited ingredients. Finally, Genesis Cottage learned how to incorporate nutritious meals into their wellness program by finding healthy alternatives for their favorite dishes.
These cooking classes inspire an interest in healthy choices for the girls – both in food and in life. The results of this new program have been promising. Sarah, who participated in a cooking class focused on developing life skills says, “I’m having so much fun learning how to cook! And the food is so good! The skills I’m learning are going to help me in the future when I live on my own. I never knew how expensive food can be! Now I’m learning how to budget food prices in order to make my favorite meals.” Many of the girls have even expressed an interest in taking additional culinary classes. Our goal, in addition to supporting our core treatment programs, is to offer supplemental programs that instill cultural and life skills. We hope to use the power of good food to bring inspiration and healing to the girls of Excelsior Youth Center.