Teen Kitchen Project news including Santa Cruz brunch benefit

Teen participants from Teen Kitchen Project’s new spot at El Pajaro CDC Incubator Kitchen

Teen participants from Teen Kitchen Project’s new spot at El Pajaro CDC Incubator Kitchen

The NEXTies of Santa Cruz (organized by Event Santa Cruz) recently announced that Teen Kitchen Project is receiving the 2016 award for “Nonprofit Organization of the Year” and TKP has even more good news to share; keep reading for details.

There will be a Teen Kitchen Project benefit brunch—actually two of them!—on Saturday, April 30 at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge (1001 Center St.). The TKP teens will be taking orders, cooking, and serving customers. A silent auction will have art, jewelry, flower bouquets, and more. There are two brunch seatings, 9:30 a.m. and noon. Tickets are $45 and include a menu featuring salad, fruit, baked goods, coffee, and tea. Each attendee receives an entrée choice (one selection is frittata with a side of Freedom Meat Locker sausage) and a choice of mimosa or orange juice. Kids under 12 cost $18. Purchase online. 100% of proceeds from tickets and auction benefit TKP.

For those unfamiliar with Teen Kitchen Project, executive director Angela Farley launched TKP in 2012 after her son was diagnosed with cancer. Farley decided she wanted to help other families affected by cancer, to at least attempt to decrease some of the pressure and feelings of being overwhelmed. Today, the organization regularly delivers free, organic meals to about 50 families affected by cancer, and has delivered more than 49,000 meals since 2012. There are families in locations across Santa Cruz County. Right now, 40% of the clients they serve live within five miles of Watsonville, but they hope to be able to increase this number. That leads to the next bit of news.

On March 7, TKP started cooking at the El Pajaro CDC (Community Development Corporation) Incubator Kitchen in addition to their original commercial kitchen in Soquel. They cook several days a week at the Watsonville kitchen, and will soon reduce their schedule to just two days a week in Soquel. The Incubator kitchen provides small groups of youth the opportunity to learn more about working as chefs in the hospitality industry. TKP’s “staff” adult mentor chefs are Stephanie Forbes, ElizaBeth Link, Cabrillo College culinary student Michelle Spencer and Cabrillo staff member Hector Quiroz. The “volunteer” adult mentor chefs are Tauna Coulson (Soquel kitchen), former Cabrillo Culinary Department instructor Kathy Niven (Watsonville kitchen), and Jesse Plasencia (Watsonville kitchen).

The program doesn’t just help the families it serves, it also helps teens gain valuable skills as they volunteer. These individuals are ages 14 to 19, in 8th grade or above, and have come from most of the area’s high schools. Most who work at the Soquel kitchen are doing this in exchange for community service hours, but there are some who sign up just for the experience. The required commitment is every other week for a minimum of eight weeks.

For more info on Teen Kitchen Project, visit their web site.

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