We are fortunate to work closely with at-risk teens enrolled at Junipero Serra Continuation High School through the Culinary Program we launched on the campus. Students enrolled in this program are given an opportunity to learn food preparation, nutritional needs, life skills and potentially a trade after graduation. Our Mobile Food Pantry provides fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and whole grains every Monday morning. The blossoming young chefs in these classes prepare healthy lunches for the very low-income students on campus and oftentimes for the entire student body. The students in this class also cook hot breakfasts for fellow students enrolled in the Teen Mothers Program. For many of these young women, it will be their only hot and healthy meal each day. A new program on campus is open to all students in need. Delicious breakfasts are loving prepared and served to students three days per week. Hungry students simply need to arrive on time.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER ARTICLE – By Sean Emery, March 29, 2007

Cooking for the troops: Students at Junipero Serra High School prepare gift baskets for returning and deployed marines.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO –The culinary arts room at Junipero Serra High School is abuzz with activity, as students rush to complete the preparation of hundreds of cookies, all placed in gift packs earmarked for 200 Marines set to depart from Camp Pendleton for a tour in Iraq.

The result of a partnership between the students and teachers of Junipero Serra and the non-profit Helping Hand Worldwide, the gift baskets are the latest gift the school is presenting to the troops, in this case the Marines of the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion.

Among those rushing to meet the looming deadline are Sue Ogden, the culinary arts teacher, and juniors Sean Hubbert and Whitney West, who are among the 50 or so students involved in the project.

Q: What did you think when you first found out about the program?

Sean: I think it’s really great how they are going out and fighting for us, risking their lives for people they don’t even know. It’s for their country.

Whitney: We appreciate it.

Q: How did you think the program went?

Sue: It was really good for these kids to give back in some way. They need it. This time the students were talking in their other classes, they were excited about it. When the art department found out they said they would make the little notes and tags for the Marines.

Whitney: I think we got it all organized and had a good thing going.

Sean: I think we could have done more. If we had more time, we could have made so much more stuff, but we did a lot for the time period we had.

Q: Have you gotten any feedback from the soldiers?

Sean: They said they appreciated them. Some were coming back from their second time, and they said they had never gotten anything like that.

Q: What did you learn from this experience?

Sue: I think they (the students) learned the world is bigger than the one that they live in and that they can contribute.

Whitney: It is the least we can do. It’s great to get organized and look to the bigger picture rather than just looking at a book.