LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Empowering Communities through STEAM Culinary Education

SEE-LA will provide bilingual English/Spanish STEAM Kids' Culinary and STEAM Kids' + Caregiver classes within the South LA community. Each class incorporates key math and science STEAM objectives through hands-on culinary skills development empowering youth (6-17 years old) and caregivers to confidently prepare meals on their own and with members of their households. Classes uniquely highlight California-grown produce and are hosted in farmers' markets and community partner sites, such as schools.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Studies show the impact of introducing culinary skills at a young age to improve nutritional intake and health. The Journal of Pediatrics found that kids who grew up in the foster care system experienced preventable, chronic health problems like diabetes, hypertension, and asthma at a significantly higher rate than the general population, including among low-income individuals who didn't grow up in foster care. For the 35,000 children in LA foster care, autonomy in food preparation is often dependent on their agency's priorities. Further, foster and system-impacted youth rarely have opportunities to participate in culinary programs or receive guidance on how to prepare healthy meals on a budget, leaving them vulnerable to preventable chronic health conditions. Our programming is designed with this in mind, with the vision of creating hands-on experiences that promote self-efficacy and empower populations that are disproportionately affected by the inequities of our current food system.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The program addresses issues faced in access to K-12 STEAM education for foster and systems-impacted youth through interactive STEAM learning and practical cooking skills development that promote confidence in fruit and veggie preparation. SEE-LA will provide bilingual English/Spanish STEAM Kid's and Kid's/Caregiver culinary classes that highlight locally grown CA produce and integrates key STEAM learning objectives. STEAM math objectives include the use of measuring tools and fractions, sequencing by following a recipe, and adding and joining through combining ingredients. Kids will learn the science of cooking, the different states of matter, the lifecycle of California grown fruits and vegetables, and how to use kitchen tools, like blenders. Classes will include hands-on recipe preparation. Classes will be held in South LA schools, community sites, and SEE-LA's South LA farmers' markets to expose participants to CA growers, fresh, and affordable produce. SEE-LA's markets accept WIC, EBT, and have a Market Match program to enhance affordability. To expand the program's impact among South LA communities, SEE-LA will develop an additional lesson for its STEAM culinary curriculum and conduct market tours. Quarterly resource sharing events to highlight program successes, STEAM culinary classes, and additional learning opportunities will be provided. Events will highlight a seasonal newsletter with new recipes and food demo videos for participants to follow along.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

SEE-LA sees the successful delivery of 64 total classes utilizing our youth and youth/caregiver's STEAM nutrition and culinary curricula, reaching a total of 160 unduplicated participants and indirectly reaching a minimum of 400 participants via quarterly market events. And introducing additional caregiver/take-home elements into the curriculum. We see participants achieving measurable change in STEAM objectives and increased confidence in their ability to prepare recipes within their age capabilities. We envision empowered youth and youth/caregivers preparing meals using CA-grown produce to support their health and wellbeing. We expect to see measurable change in caregivers' inclusion of kids in meal preparation. Our aim is to see this realized by strengthening our impact and expanding the program to continue serving other SEE-LA farmers' market and partnering organizations for the extended future.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Current programming reaffirms the value of STEAM culinary education, with participants and partners expressing enthusiasm over classes. Youth report that they've enjoyed making new recipes and learning about unfamiliar veggies "It was so much fun, I saw new vegetables". Most participants improve in all STEAM objective areas, with most improvements seen in measuring, combining ingredients, and the science of cooking. Knife skills are the most common culinary skill learned, and for some participants it may be the first time ever using them. Participants have also expressed increased self-efficacy in preparing healthy, simple recipes at home. Pre-and-post surveys will assess knowledge attainment and dietary behaviors. Observational assessment of culinary skills and STEAM objectives will be conducted with each class. Qualitative feedback will also be collected to assess participant knowledge. Feedback from partnering sites will be captured via a post-series survey.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 160

Indirect Impact: 400