More than 38% of California’s foster youth are in Los Angeles, and government services for them are limited and inconsistent. Our city lacks affordable housing, we lack adequate social services, we lack opportunities for those aging out of the system, and we lack a large enough cadre of mentors to support these youth in their transition to independence and journey into life. 50% of foster youth end up homeless or incarcerated. Shameful! This is where community must step in and fill the gap. Non-profits like Alliance for Children’s Rights work hard to serve this marginalized population but they need donations, they need help!
It is easy to reach out to non-profits that move you, and then to dutifully offer your energy. All of our varied lifestyles have contributions to make! For us, obviously, it’s cooking, or teaching how to cook and exposure to real foods. Who would believe that these youth, with definitive palates for processed foods, would eat so much of a salad made simply of raw purple french beans, heirloom apple, butter radish and greens! It was so popular that we ran out! Why? Because we engaged these youth in the cooking process. We engaged them period. It’s not rocket science, we all can contribute.
Additionally, a week before this holiday party at the Community Coalition, which donated their space, we asked our purveyors for some non-perishable, practical items for youth moving into housing with empty cupboards. When you live off food stamps, not having to buy toilet paper and sponges is appreciated.
We were overwhelmed by the response! LA Specialty, Fresh Point, Chef’s Warehouse, and World Wide Produce all contributed to fill our office with an avalanche of goods for us to construct 50 baskets. It’s moving how eager people are to help when you are organized towards a common good.
As you’d imagine, we do so many events throughout the year. This one was my favorite by a landslide. I got to witness stereotypes shift as boys flocked to the kitchen, not girls, to assist Matt. One very young boy ditched his processed chips and munched on purple French beans instead, it was mind blowing! After participating in an hour long cooking demo, I held back tears and tried my best to be tough as one youth said to me that his face hurt from smiling so much. These youth, so many of them broken and let down by their lives so far, are looking for light. Where do they get it? Look in the mirror. It’s up to us.
What are you waiting for? Go out and give. Go make an impact. No, you’re not going to change the world, this world is full of an overwhelming amount of poverty, loss, and despair, but you can change a moment. That’s a start.