LGBTQ+ Youth Cookin’ Up a Future

Cedars-Sinai awarded the Los Angeles LGBT Center a $159,973 grant for LGBTQ+ youth enrolled in a new intergenerational Culinary Arts program taught at the Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus

LGBTQ+ youth interested in culinary arts just received a whole lot of support from Cedars-Sinai. The Los Angeles LGBT Center  has been awarded a $159,973 grant from Cedars-Sinai to benefit LGBTQ youth, ages 18–24, who are enrolled in a new intergenerational Culinary Arts program taught at the Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus. 

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Launched in May at the Campus’ commercial kitchen, the program is comprised of 300 hours of hands-on training (spanning three months) in which the youth—alongside students from the Center’s Senior Services programs—learn basic culinary skills; assist with the preparation of up to 600 meals a day for the Center’s youth and senior clients experiencing food insecurity; and obtain paid internships with local restaurants, catering companies, and other food service businesses.

“Nearly 60 percent of our youth members experiencing homelessness have told us that their inability to secure employment is the primary reason why they remain on the streets,” Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said in a press release. “The Culinary Arts program is designed to transform their lives so they may obtain the necessary skills and experience to build their future careers. Thanks to Cedars-Sinai’s generosity, our exciting new program—of which its first class of students recently graduated in July—will help our youth thrive in the food and hospitality sectors.”

The Culinary Arts program is the brainchild of Center Board of Directors member and celebrity chef Susan Feniger, according to the press release. It is taught by Executive Chef Janet Crandall, Executive Sous Chef Shirley Cho, and Sous Chef Arlita Miller, with Nick Panepinto serving as the program’s Director of Culinary Training and Operations.

“Cedars-Sinai is particularly proud of the work we are doing among transition age youth in the LGBTQ+ community,” said Cedars-Sinai Chief Community Engagement Officer Jonathan Schreiber. “It’s critical to provide support and hope for this very vulnerable group to help alleviate both homelessness and economic insecurity.”

The Center’s goal is to enroll 38 youth in the Culinary Arts program over the course of one year. All of the students will have access to ongoing case management that will connect them with the Center’s wraparound services to attain employment stability, such as housing, education, health and mental health services, and more. Additionally, those completing the first 200 hours of instruction will be placed in paid internships with food service businesses to fulfill the remaining 100 hours of the intensive training. The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the City of West Hollywood’s Office of Strategic Initiatives have pledged to recruit 15 West Hollywood businesses to host the Culinary Arts internships.

“The City of West Hollywood is proud of our long-term support of the many incredible life-changing programs and initiatives of the Los Angeles LGBT Center,” said West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “Helping young LGBT people gain the culinary skills needed to secure future employment and stabilize their lives is vital—and what better place for them to do that than in the top-notch restaurants of West Hollywood.”

The Culinary Arts Program is being offered at a critical time. On any given day there are 4,000 youth, ages 18 to 24, living on the streets of Los Angeles—in Hollywood, a staggering 40 percent of them identify as LGBTQ. In 2018 the Center served more than 1,500 youth experiencing homelessness through its youth support services and residential program. The Center offers critical help, including three meals a day; clothing; support groups; a charter high school, GED and college prep program; an employment preparation, training, and placement program; independent living skills-building; medical care; counseling; and whatever support youth need to get off the streets.

For more information about the Los Angeles LGBT Center, visit lalgbtcenter.org. For more information about the Center’s Youth Services, visit lalgbtcenter.org/youth.