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UEMPOWER of Maryland's "The Food Project" brings culinary skills, job opportunities, sustainable food sources, mentorship & hope to the youth of South West Baltimore. With your support we can empower futures together.




Transition Kitchen w/ Chef Stew
Teaching life skills through culinary arts, while also exposing learners to the endless opportunities in the food and beverage industry. 

Cooking Classes
w/ Chef Nalley, Be A Chef For A Day, Chef Bryce Taylor & Other Guest Chefs
Younger kids will learn easy to make after school snacks, help with basic food prep while older kids will learn kitchen & cooking skills.

Urban Farming w/ Dominic Nell
#BeMoreGreen STEM program teaches the fundamentals of sustainable living through growing vegetables with the abundant urban laboratory that surrounds us. The experience includes learning to grow microgreens using the City Hydro system. 

Healthy Literacy Program w/ Tavon Mason
Each week Tavon will read two interactive books to promote literacy to the children. Getting the kids active and moving will also show how reading can be fun. The fitness piece is a part of Tavon’s foundation component to help combat childhood obesity. 

“Table Talks” Mentorship w/ Melvin Willingham, The Family Tree & Public Health United
Encouraging our youth to gain a better understanding of their places and roles in society, and how they correlate to their development as men.

Food Production w/ Michelle Suazo & Gail McGee
Youth will learn how to produce, brand, market & sell a product. We also hope to bring in our own SW Baltimore branded product to give the youth a sense of pride and a way to make money.

Healthy Voice w/ Michelle Suazo & Vonnya Pettigrew of Root Branch Films
Youth learn how to express themselves through the arts with food & farming themes. We will explore film making, story writing and the visual arts.


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The Food Project is an unprecedented collaboration of the business, non-profit, government and education sectors to offer youth in the underserved communities of South/West Baltimore programs that encompass Education, Health, Wellness, & Fitness, Character & Leadership, Workforce Development & Entrepreneurship.  The curriculum has been developed by sector leaders and currently consists of cooking skills, nutrition, education, urban farming, and active mentorship.  Our goal is to integrate with other programs working in the culinary, sports, technology, arts, sciences and mentorship arenas. 

The Food Project gives its young people the opportunity to see “there is a different way”.  We understand nothing is a panacea, however, by integrating a range of program elements, we believe The Food Project is a solid first step for these young people to get a glimpse of what healthy looks like from a holistic standpoint.  The program recognizes the current situations facing most of the children – limited resources, unhealthy lifestyle programming in their families and neighborhoods, a sense of hopelessness and desperation, and few actual options to change their situations.  All curricular elements make a point of showcasing people with similar backgrounds who have successfully improved their lives.  The Food Project makes tangible the idea that better is possible.

Younger children will be able to embrace the idea of a healthier lifestyle because we make the learning fun, non-threatening and useful. Older children will gain actual skills which open doors to gainful employment and are thus empowering.  The critical mentorship component of The Food Project exposes all children to positive role models, character development, decision-making, coping and interpersonal skills, respect and compassion.  We expect the older children to become mentors for the younger children, in the program, in their schools (as applicable) and in their communities.  

We are working on recognition constructs to acknowledge progress for all program participants. All our partners will offer opportunities for program participants to become further involved with their organizations and/or related outreach in their communities.  Current partners include:  UEMPOWER of Maryland, Transition Kitchen, Nalley Fresh, #BeMoreGreen, Tavon Mason Loves the Kids, Makings of a Man, Baltimore Healthy Communities for Kids (Bmore4Kids), City Hydro, Bent Carrot, BCPD Community Collaboration Division, Root Branch Films and FoodBridge, with the support of 9th District Councilman John Bullock and Councilwoman Rikki Spector. In addition to directly impacting youth in the South/West Baltimore communities, The Food Project works to addresses fundamental issues of food access and nutrition education in these communities and food waste on an even larger scale.        

Target Audience
Boys and girls ages 8-18 in/from South/West Baltimore, broken into two program groups ages 8-12 and 13-18.  Depending on participation and group dynamics, separate boys and girls groups will be considered.

Program Cost

Program Duration
8 week blocks on an ongoing basis annually.  Summer sessions may be different, depending on funding and interest.

Instructional Philosophy
Our instructional philosophy first and foremost recognizes the ages of the program participants AND the challenging environments from which they come.  It is a blend of structure, engagement, mentorship, and fun.  All of our “instructors” have worked extensively with young people and are adept at adapting to the dynamics of any given group or situation.  Within this, the shared goal is to provide a positive experience for all participants and given them useful information and skills for them to use in their daily lives.

Learning Objective for the Program
By the end of each program segment, participants will be able to safely prepare simple, healthy meals and have gained skills which can help lead to employment and/or entrepreneurship in the food service and urban farming industries.

The Food project is also looking into education & jobs with food production. Councilwoman Rikki Spector joined one of our young mentors, Mekhi Cole, from Makings of a Man to explore the possible opportunities with SeedyNutty, a healthy snack developed by Rosanne Skirble.

The Food project is also looking into education & jobs with food production. Councilwoman Rikki Spector joined one of our young mentors, Mekhi Cole, from Makings of a Man to explore the possible opportunities with SeedyNutty, a healthy snack developed by Rosanne Skirble.