Fresher Sacramento delivered more than 50,000 meals to the South Sacramento community in its program that trains local youth on how to cook restaurant-quality food.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — In Meadowview there is no grocery store to be seen for miles, making it more difficult for the community to gain access to fresh food. A South Sacramento nonprofit called Fresher Sacramento is trying to help improve access to affordable and healthy food options by training neighborhood chefs. 

The non-profit set up a shop in Sam and Bonnie Pannell Community Center, delivering more than 50,000 meals to the community.  

David Azen is the director for Fresher Sacramento. Azen is testing a new program that provides jobs to local youth while teaming them with top chefs to get healthy, affordable meals to families who might otherwise go hungry. 

“This neighborhood, even before the pandemic, 9 out of 10 children came from homes that were eligible for free and reduced lunches, which means that they were going hungry, quite frankly,” Azen said. “That has gotten worse since the pandemic.   

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Teenagers like 18-year-old Lesieli Pailate, find cooking for others to be worthwhile. 

“I like to see the smile on their face,” Pailate said. “They’re like, I like the community meals. It helps a lot because some people, they come from work, and they don’t have anything to eat, so some of them stop by over here and grab some plates and then go.”

Patrick Mulvaney, the owner of Mulvaney’s B&L, helps train young adults on how to prepare restaurant-quality food.  

“Really, one of the appeals of being able to deal with these young ladies inside is that we start young,” Mulvaney said. “That’s when you build habits, and that’s when you go further so that they’ll be able to feed their children better.”  

While the intentions behind “Fresher Sacramento” appear to noble but how is the food?  

Eveline Johnson, a pilot participant for the program, gave the young chefs an A-plus. She was so impressed by her meal that she now volunteers to deliver meals to those who don’t have transportation. 

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