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High school Youth Staff grow, cook and build skills in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls

SCLT, youth staff, Sankofa

Two weeks into SCLT’s summer youth program, nearly three dozen high school youth are busy learning how to tend, harvest and cook with fresh produce, as well as provide their neighbors with information about nutrition and climate change. Over six weeks, youth will acquire foundational skills and engage in career opportunities in regenerative agriculture, environmental stewardship, culinary arts and nutrition education through hands-on, work-based learning on farms, in kitchens and around neighborhoods throughout Rhode Island.

In addition to the 10 youth staff we usually hire in Providence, this summer we’ve hired 24 high school students in Pawtucket and Central Falls with grant funding from the Governor’s Workforce Board and other agencies. SCLT has partnered with Farm Fresh’s Harvest Kitchen and Groundwork Rhode Island to develop programming that will create a rich experience for underserved youth in these communities. 

Youth in our Pawtucket and Central Falls program are working in the garden at Galego Community Farm, where we grow food and support community gardeners doing the same. They also work at Harvest Kitchen, learning culinary skills and processing the food we grow into healthy lunches for all program participants and for sale as processed foods to the community at large. With Groundwork, youth are canvassing neighborhoods, doing outreach related to an initiative on community resilience to climate change.

In the first two weeks of the program, youth have begun to harvest beans, garlic and potatoes from Galego, and are ready to begin to harvest what looks to be a bumper crop of tomatoes. They are paid between $10.50 and $11.50 an hour, and will work with us for 20 hours per week for six weeks in July and August. SCLT summer youth jobs have become increasingly popular, so much so that this year they attracted three applicants for every available spot. 

Convened by SCLT, this summer’s partnership with Farm Fresh and Groundwork has also drawn the participation of local farming, culinary arts and nutrition education institutions that are hosting field trips and interactive workshops over the six-week period. Together, these activities are expected to give youth holistic exposure to the careers shaping the region’s food system, as well as the tactile job readiness skills necessary for student success in college and in their careers.

Financial support for SCLT enables us to continue to offer, and deepen, training opportunities like these to empower youth – adults and children – to develop healthy practices and build an equitable, environmentally sound local food economy that benefits everyone. To contribute to this program, please click here.

PHOTO CAPTION: Providence youth staff (from L.) Sergio, Phoebe, Keolani and Jaden get food prep training in the Sankofa Community Kitchen from SCLT Community Outreach Coordinator Jazandra Barros.