In the past year, we’ve more than doubled our staff to include five youth interns who have come through our various culinary, nutrition and horticulture programs. They will be the ones to transform their communities, helping their peers, parents and neighbors to get back in the habit of eating tasty, affordable fresh food every day.
Gerry isn’t actually drinking that Coke. He’s washing the rust off his skate board bearings. Really. Gerry and his sister, Lilly got roped in to the Ralph Bunche House one day as they were walking by. Now, they both know how to make apple sauce and Gerry uses that skateboard to get himself to his new job, tending the Jefferson garden and collecting compost from our neighbors on 40th Place. Gerry also teaches drumming to local school kids and is learning an awful lot about nutrition and dirt from Chopin.
Ana Torres has been with us since day one at Jefferson High. She’s currently designing a cooking class for teen parents and training with Jorge Nuno, of the NTS Creative Group, to help create a social media campaign promoting a new program we’ve been funded to launch in the Central Avenue Corridor – Instant Recess. Ana brilliantly juggles her work with us with her busy life as a successful high school senior.
Jasan Givens came to us from the CRCD workforce program last summer to partake in our second Horticultural and Entrepreneurial Training program. He’s using his already considerable landscaping knowledge to assist with all garden design and maintenance. Jasan has also reluctantly agreed to get roped into the culinary side of things where, (he’s finally conceded) he WILL learn to like his veggies. (Check him out on his first foray into our demand-side programming.) When he’s not excelling with us, Jasan produces mad musical beats we get to listen to while we cook.
Karen Ramirez admits she didn’t quite know what to think of us when we launched early programming at Jefferson High her senior year. Where were we headed with all those veggies? Stick with us! We promised good things were in store. Today, Karen is a key part of our programming team. This summer, she impressed us all when she spent three weeks in the dry hills above Ojai, earning a Permaculture certification, which she’ll use to plant native landscapes back in her neighborhood. Karen is pursuing a degree in psychology at East LA College.
You’ve likely seen him before. “Chopin!” we call him. Our first Youth Culinary Intern, Andres Chopin, has stepped up in a big way. He’s now running our after school cooking class and overseeing (often single-handedly) our Healthy Food Tastings, where we take healthy food (AKA better tasting veggies) to schools, offices and community events across Los Angeles. When Chopin is not cooking with us, he’s attending culinary school at LA Trade Tech or skate boarding around the neighborhood, his favorite tunes playing loud in his ears.