May 18, 2018
For Chicago teens Yvette and Alexa, the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Pilsen Foodies program is more than just a summer job. Both Yvette and Alexa say Foodies at the Rauner Family YMCA is a place where they can be themselves and learn skills they can use in their daily lives.
Foodies, funded in part by After School Matters, teaches youth how to create healthy dishes while practicing leadership and team-building. Although it's open to youth from all over Chicago, most of the students live in the Pilsen, Little Village and Back of the Yards neighborhoods, like Yvette and Alexa.
Because Foodies is a popular choice among youth looking for summer apprenticeships, Yvette says she was waitlisted in the past, and was thrilled to learn she was accepted into the program. Yvette says Foodies provided her with fun and new experiences that helped her find a passion for cooking and explore cultures in Central America. One Costa Rican dish she had never heard of, pollo sudado, is now her favorite . . . even though she didn’t like chicken before!
Teamwork and communication are important in Foodies, and Yvette and Alexa have created a little family within their group. “Foodies gives us the opportunity to be around others that are not going to be judging you and to really learn something, a skill that will be really helpful in life.” Alexa enjoys being in an environment where social media and other outside distractions are at bay. Her knowledge of cooking has expanded and she says she has fun trying new dishes. Foodies has also opened up Alexa’s mind to what she might pursue as a career, and cooking is something she is willing to try.
To learn more about Foodies, click here.