New Project Brings Youth into the Kitchen

Youth from the Bruner cottage chose to prepare a menu of grilled pork chops, mac-n-cheese, garden salad and watermelon.

Who taught you to cook? Maybe you’re not a seasoned chef but surely someone, most likely someone in your family, taught you the basics of preparing a meal and showed you your way around the kitchen.

For many of the youth in our Inspiration Hill Residential Care Program, food preparation, meal planning and making healthy food choices is a foreign concept. Many come from unstable backgrounds and a history of trauma that has permeated every aspect of their lives, including simple tasks such as preparing a healthy meal.

A new project at Omaha Home for Boys aims to fill this gap by bringing the young men in our Residential Care Program into the kitchen. The brainchild of Food Services Manager, Vicki Hedlund, the project teaches these young men about everything that goes into meal preparation, including meal planning, budgeting, food preparation, nutrition, serving and clean up.

First, the boys from each cottage meet with Vicki to plan the menu for one meal that they will prepare and serve to the residential youth and Omaha Home for Boys’ staff in the Dining Hall. This gives youth the opportunity to learn about the nutritional value of food and how to incorporate foods from the five food groups into a well-balanced meal.

Next, comes preparation of the meal where the youth get hands-on experience in the kitchen. They learn everything from proper food handling guidelines and cooking techniques to how to read a recipe and slice a vegetable.

Last, the youth are tasked with serving the meal to their peers and OHB staff and cleaning up.

“Having the guys in the kitchen has been a very rewarding experience as many of them have never been taught simple kitchen basics,” said Vicki. “The skills they’re learning now will help them make healthy food choices and give them the knowledge needed to prepare simple, nutritious meals even after their time at the Home.”

Vicki also noted that those youth who have been through the meal preparation process have greater respect for all that goes into serving lunch and dinner to nearly 50 people twice a day.

If you’d like to make an investment in teaching youth in our Residential Care Program the essential skills needed to become successful adults, please contact the development department for giving options or click on the “Donate” button below.

(402) 457-7165