By: Julia Kann, Program Manager for Food and Nutrition

The Food & Nutrition Program at LAYC had a busy summer and is gearing up for an even busier school year!

Summer was a blur of growing, buying, cooking, and eating healthy, yummy food with a great group of youth as part of DC’s Student Youth Employment Program.

As a part of LAYC’s Second Nature program—a collaboration between LAYC and the National Park Service—young people volunteered at our neighborhood farmers market, did a grocery store scavenger hunt, and finished up the summer with projects highlighting their own food heritages (pictured below are youth who made dolma and pupusas).

This week we kicked off two cooking classes in the LAYC Teen Center. On Monday youth harvested carrots and cherry tomatoes from our garden to use in chicken noodle soup and compared our recipe to Campbell’s canned soup. It turns out ours was healthier AND cost less per serving!

Our Wednesday class had so much interest—we had 22 youth show up to a class for 10—that we’re trying to figure out how to expand and make room for all these interested young people. Needless to say, it’s a good problem to have!

We also enjoyed a cookie donation from Whisked Bakery, which sweetened up last Monday for a lot of youth and staff. We’re looking into soliciting other in-kind food donations, so if you know anyone who might be interested in donating (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), please don’t hesitate to get in touch (

In the coming weeks we plan to offer more classes, serving older youth, homeless youth, and young parents.

We’re also in the midst of preparing our garden for winter (we hope to be able to harvest nearly year-round) and looking into the possibility of building a compost system here at the center.

Plus: Keep an eye out for a Fresh Pasta-Making Class / Program Fundraiser. Interested in attending? Email Date and time TBD.

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