New Program Educates Syracuse Teens in the Kitchen New Program Educates Syracuse Teens in the Kitchen

The Kitchen Literacy Project: Improving Food Education for the Youth in Syracuse

Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News)- At Salt City Market, Jessica Miller, founder of the Kitchen Literacy Project, has rallied local chefs, bakers, and healthcare professionals with a similar goal in mind. They are working to improve food education in Syracuse. Miller hosts free cooking classes for Syracuse teens so they can become self-sufficient in the kitchen. To fund free classes, the project offers cooking classes for people in the community that are held twice a week at Pearl’s Kitchen in Salt City Market. While these classes are a fun activity for teens, they are also crucial for the community.

With the economy the way it is and so much of Syracuse dependent on processed and packaged food, it’s a need,” said Miller. “It’s a financial need, it’s a health need, and it’s an empowerment thing for kids to be able to take care of themselves.”


People standing around a kitchen table in a cake decorating class.
As part of the Kitchen Literacy Project, FatCat Baking came in to teach a cake decorating class.
© 2024 Reese Gaudelli

According to Randi Berenbaum, a registered dietitian and director of beCollaborativeCare in Providence, Rhode Island, being able to cook for yourself is not only healthier, but it could save money. 

“Feeding yourself is pretty essential in self-care, we all have to eat,” said Berenbaum. “I’d argue that oftentimes, once you have the basic ingredients you need in your pantry, it can be more cost-efficient…”

However, stocking up a pantry is not easy for some Syracuse residents. According to a report done by Onondaga County, 50% of households in zip codes with the lowest income and poorest health outcomes do not have access to a car. Aside from lacking food education, access to food is a major issue in the county. 

The Kitchen Literacy Project is paired with other local organizations that work to provide food access to those who need it. Whether it be non-profit organizations, business owners, or chefs, Miller emphasized that the food community in Syracuse was more willing to support this initiative. 


A TV in Salt City Market is showing a graphic advertising the Kitchen Literacy Project
The Kitchen Literacy Project is hosting cooking classes at Salt City Market.
© 2024 Reese Gaudelli

“The second you say we need help with food education, people are like ‘Oh yeah how can I help?’” said Miller. “And that just kind of snowballed, we found people who have beautiful big hearts in the food community in Syracuse that want to be part of this.”

As someone who has struggled financially, Miller pointed out that being able to cook for herself has been a lifeline on many occasions. She hopes that she can spread this knowledge to help future generations in the kitchen in Syracuse. 


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