A small group of teenagers in Martinez is learning to cook and exploring new career paths.
The Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen is sponsoring the two-month culinary skills class for students at Vicente-Martinez Alternative High School.
The instructor is former caterer Sally Van Slyke, who designed the curriculum even though she had never taught before. She shares her enthusiasm for food with her students four days per week.
She said her students weren't connecting with academics but the hands-on experience of cooking has opened doors for them. Most are planning to attend Diablo Valley Community College's culinary certificate program now.
Loaves and Fishes Executive Director Dan Gerson says the grant-funded program meets his organization's goals because it gives young people the tools they need to find jobs which addresses the root causes of hunger.
Enrique Armas said he plans to use his new recipe for lasagna to make dinner for his a hard-working single mother who raised him on microwaves dinners because she didn't have time or the know-how.
The program is wrapping up next month and the students say they'll miss it but the skills they learned will pay off for a long time to come.