The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Culinary Arts program was awarded a $300,000 grant spanning two years from the Beverly Hills-based Eisner Foundation to support its inter-generational training program for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness alongside low-income LGBTQ seniors.
“Our unique Culinary Arts program is helping our youth and seniors thrive in the food and hospitality industries—thanks to the generosity of The Eisner Foundation,” said Center CEO Lorri L. Jean in an emailed statement to the LA Blade. “Nearly a quarter of the 65,000 LGBT seniors in Los Angeles County live on $999 or less each month, and many of them are faced with the decision to re-enter the job market. On the other side of the spectrum, nearly 60 percent of our youth members experiencing homelessness have told us they remain on the streets primarily because they cannot secure employment.”
The program is the brainchild of Center Board of Directors member and celebrity chef Susan Feniger. It is taught by Executive Chef Janet Crandall, Executive Sous Chef Shirley Cho, and Sous Chef Arlita Miller, with Nick Panepinto serving as the program’s Director of Culinary Training and Operations.
Taught at the Center’s commercial kitchen in the Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood, the 300-hour program engages youth, ages 18–24, to learn basic culinary skills alongside students from the Center’s Senior Services programs. The program participants then assist with the preparation of up to 450 meals a day for the Center’s youth and senior clients experiencing food insecurity. Participants finish the program by completing a 100-hour internship at local restaurants, catering companies, and other food service businesses.
“We’re so pleased that the Los Angeles LGBT Center has embraced inter-generational connection as a core value at their new campus,” said Trent Stamp, CEO of The Eisner Foundation. “This culinary training program is a great example of how inter-generational efforts can enhance an organization’s impact in a creative new way, and we hope others are inspired to follow the Center’s lead.”
LGBT Center spokesman Gil Diaz told the LA Blade in an email Tuesday; “To date, more than 40 students (both youth and seniors) have already enrolled in the unique program—and they’ve been feeding hundreds of our clients every day from our kitchen.”
This past August, the Center was awarded a $159,973 grant from Cedars-Sinai to benefit its inter-generational Culinary Arts program. “Cedars-Sinai is particularly proud of the work we are doing among transition age youth in the LGBTQ+ community,” said Cedars-Sinai Chief Community Engagement Officer Jonathan Schreiber. “It’s critical to provide support and hope for this very vulnerable group to help alleviate both homelessness and economic insecurity.”