Fresh Chefs Society empowers foster youth with the skills necessary to take charge of their eating lifestyle through meaningful educational experiences with community cooks, chefs, and restaurants.
Fresh Chefs Society began with a simple idea: join together as a community to give a small piece of control back to youth in foster care through food. Growing up in the foster care system in Florida, founder Shaleiah Fox knew first-hand how little control she had over her life – and that extended to her eating lifestyle. Recognizing the incredible need for cooking education and access to nutrition information for youth in care and the opportunity to provide important independent living skills, we set out to mobilize the community to join us. We sat down with foster advocates, case workers, therapists, administrators, and current and former foster care youth to assess the need and make sure our programs responded to those needs, and met our youth where they were. We also reached out to the vibrant Austin food community for help – and to offer them a way to give back, share their love of and personal journey with food, and inspire a new generation of food lovers. We wanted to create positive experiences around food for youth in foster care.
“Food nourishes us, cooking empowers us, and sharing a good meal with others reminds us that above all, we are more alike than different.”
— Shaleiah Fox, Founder
What began in 2012 as a series of cooking classes for youth in care, has grown into a robust apprenticeship program that aims to equip youth in care with necessary skills to support – and feed themselves – as they embark on their journey into independent living. We bring Austin’s most beloved chefs and food makers into the kitchens of foster care group homes to make sweet potato biscuits, roast chickens, and learn about curing pork to make thick-cut bacon. Five years in and many delicious meals later, we have served over 500 youth in Central Texas through a family of volunteers. We are proud to be Austin-based, food-centered, and above all, committed to doing our part to empower our youth in care.
2017 will mark our fifth year of empowering youth through food. We’ve learned so much about what our youth truly need and want, and we work each year to grow our programs accordingly. So what’s next? Something very exciting – a new way of connecting community to youth through food by creating experiences that enrich their lives, enhance their connection to food, and teach important life skills.
Central Texas foster youth served.
Culinary events for foster youth.
Volunteers and partners.
With the support of our community, in 2016, Fresh Chefs offered 75 hands-on cooking classes for foster youth with guest chefs, hosted interactive field trips and food experiences, created 45 mentor and mentee connections, and graduated our first class of apprentices!
Calling all cooks! Whether you are a local chef, a home cook, a culinary-focused business, or a foster youth who would like to participate in one of our programs, we want to hear from you.