Children are the future of the world. Society teaches children many things, from how to interact with their peers to how they, in turn, should be treated. Worldwide, there is a crisis for at-risk youth, impoverished and under-served in their community. However, there are a few restaurants trying to change their local society, and give these children the skills necessary to succeed in any vocation.
Café Hope is one of these restaurants. Based in the Greater New Orleans area, where one in five children are considered at-risk, they are changing the game. Café Hope offers a variety of life skills through culinary vocational experience. The programme aspires to ensure the children are given the opportunities they need to become valuable assets to the area.
Another wonderful establishment is called Old Skool Café. Located in San Francisco, this youth-run restaurant focuses on children aged 16-22. Hoping to break the often cyclical nature of incarceration, this programme provides management training and pays their trainees.
The culinary programme run in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica is headed by chef Randy Siles, the ambassador for Costa Rica’s National Plan for Sustainable and Healthy Gastronomy. Chef Siles uses his restaurant, Shambala, to train young, economically under-served natives in the skills of support staff, bar-tending, and culinary arts. To date, Shambala has seen more than 90 students graduate from the programme.
The Waterhouse Restaurant in East London, England is a programme created by the Shoreditch Trust charity in 2008. Here, they work to assist local residents by improving health and well-being. The program offers opportunities to develop expertise in the culinary arts to then move on to paid employment.
Tender Greens is a sustainable life programme with locations nationwide. They offer a culinary training programme along with a paid internship for former foster children. Upon completion of the programme, which includes classes and field trips, interns are encouraged to apply to Tender Greens locations in New York, Massachusetts, and California.
All of these programmes have one agenda. They are there to provide at-risk youth with valuable life skills, as well as giving these children a safe place to fit in. Society would benefit from many more programmes similar to these. It’s time to look toward the future. Every young person deserves the chance to become valuable, functioning members of society.