Fall Updates and Big News for Emerging Chefs

Happy 2024! We hope your year is off to a great start.

It’s been a little while since our last On the Road blog post, so we wanted to catch you up on some highlights of the past few months, and share some exciting news!

This fall was a transitional period for us, since it was our first semester under the leadership of our new Co-CEOs. Nevertheless, we had a successful semester of programming across all five of our program sites, full of diverse learning opportunities. A special thanks to all of our amazing volunteer Community Teachers!

Students working on physics project
Students learning CPR
Students learning

One highlight in particular were our Lights on Afterschool Events, celebrating the importance of afterschool programs across the country. Our event at Kate Collins Middle School in Waynesboro was supported by a grant from the Virginia Partnership for Out of School Time. It was amazing to see so many youth and families come together for an evening of learning, games and fun!

Emerging Chefs presentation

As always, our semester concluded with our Learning Showcases at each middle school. Learning Showcases are such a wonderful celebration: of our Community Teachers, who so graciously volunteered their time to share their passion, our youth, who worked hard to develop a new skill, our dedicated staff, who work tirelessly to empower our youth, and our school community!

Students celebrating
Students applauding teacher

Our Emerging Chefs program continues to be a crowd favorite. In December, we learned that this special program was awarded a $25,000 grant by Richard & Caroline T. Gwathmey Memorial Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. We are so proud of program director Kristi Van Sickle, Livvy Call, the program specialist, and her staff for their diligent work in securing this funding for this amazing program. 

Emerging Chefs program participants standing by their food

In writing for this grant, Kristi remarked how easy it felt to tell the Emerging Chefs story, even to someone who had never heard of it before.

“Our Emerging Chefs story tells itself.  We put a lot of intentionality in everything we do for Emerging Chefs and the youth we work with and just captured that into a story.  This was a great opportunity to reflect on Emerging Chefs: where we started… how much we have grown and continue to grow as well as the challenges in the work we do with the ever increasing costs of foods and the implications that has for our community.”

Kristi has been leading the Emerging Chefs program since On the Road’s inception, first as a volunteer, then as a part time staff, and now full-time for the past year and a half. She’s seen youth participate in the program and, like Sailuh, graduate and come back to work as edible education instructors.

Student preparing food

The process gave Kristi and her team “a chance to reflect on the youth that have participated in Emerging Chefs over the years… and what their growth and transformation has been like.” Seeing youth grow up in the program and develop a passion for the culinary arts is an inspiration for the entire On the Road Collaborative team.

This grant is a major step towards sustaining the Emerging Chefs program. When asked what it means to them, Livvy Call couldn’t help but think about how this would benefit local youth:

“As we continue to expand our scope and capacity to serve youth and their families, the grant will give us more stability and sustainability… It means we can be more generous in giving youth educational experiences and to explore other ways to create professional development opportunities.”

Once again, we’re so proud of the Emerging Chefs program and so thankful for this funding. 

We are still in need of $20,000 of funding to fully support this program for this year. If you’d like to learn more about the program and consider making a contribution to this one-of-a-kind program, follow the link below! 

Your funding enables the mission of providing high quality local food and continuously expanding the educational opportunities available to our youth through Emerging Chefs.

Students in greenhouse