California restaurant sharpens culinary skills of at-risk youth
A California restaurant chain is taking part in a charitable program that seeks to help young people stay on track. Tender Greens, owned and operated by Erik Oberholtzer, is an active participant in the Sustainable Life Project, a program that targets young people ages 18 to 24 who are transitioning out of foster care.
By partnering with local organizations to recruit young adults, The Sustainable Life Project offers a 12-week culinary arts and agriculture internship, where youth receive culinary arts training.
Youth transitioning out of foster care face unique challenges that make them especially vulnerable.[…] Without primary needs like housing, vocational training and legal support, these youth frequently don’t have the luxury of dreaming beyond finding a home and employment.
The young people visit artisan food makers, urban farmers and food-processing facilities to learn about the sources of their food. They get culinary arts training from restaurant chefs, and they receive a paid internship inside one of the company’s 12 restaurants.
So far, 15 youths have graduated from the Sustainable Life Project since its inception. 10 have landed jobs at restaurants. Tender Greens pays students an hourly wage for their internship, and covers transportation costs for farm visits.
Despite many restaurants recovering from the effects of the recession, Tender Greens has managed to grow from $7.3 million and 115 employees in 2009 to $28 million in revenues and 450 employees in 2013.
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