About Us

Sprouts empowers youth from all backgrounds to live healthier lives through 3 programs:

 

1) Sprouts’ CIT program

A 6-month culinary, vocational training program for at-risk youth ages 16-24 where interns develop the essential skills needed to secure and maintain a job in the modern restaurant industry.
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2) In-Restaurant Cooking Classes and Camps

Subsidized and free classes for diverse children, 7-12, in the Bay Area, NYC, and Paris. 
 

 

3) After School Cooking Classes

Subsidized classes at Bay Area public and Title 1 elementary schools that teach nutritional basics, sugar awareness, and cooking skills.
In 2006, Sprouts was launched in the Bay Area with the mission to teach children from all socioeconomic, physical and mental health backgrounds the importance of healthy, nutritional foods through hands-on cooking with REAL chefs with REAL ingredients in REAL restaurants. In 2009, it was formally converted into an official 501c3, thanks to the encouragement of Alice Waters, a member of Sprouts’ advisory board. Since then, Sprouts has expanded to inspire and empower youth in New York City and Paris. 

OUR STORY

Growing up, my dad taught me that food could heal. My mother showed me that food had soul. For me, food was FUN – a social, creative experience.

– Karen Rogers

The stats confirm what we see every day on the streets: childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. We have all heard this before: the extra pounds weighing down our youth are leading to health, social and psychological issues.
Growing up, my father told me countless stories of his patients that suffered from poor eating habits. He taught me that food could heal. My mom taught me that food had soul. Raised on a farm, she ground wheat to make us bread and jammed fruits from her garden.
For me, food was FUN. In preschool, I planted a pumpkin patch. In elementary school, I baked home-made pies with friends. In high school, I hosted ‘rainbow’ dinners with colorful produce. Cooking with real foods was a social, creative experience.
In college, however, I realized that the majority of us never learned HOW to eat well, or WHY real food is so important. Cooking was intimidating. And I wanted to change that.
So I am.
One kid at a time, class by class, I am thrilled to be bringing the health, soul, and FUN back in good food.
Background

OUR MISSION

Since 2006, Sprouts has been breathing the fun back into good food! We bring together Bay Area youth from all backgrounds so that they might cook with real chefs right inside real restaurants using real ingredients. Here at Sprouts, we are showing our youth, hands-on, what real food is about. We are empowering them to lead healthier lives.

– Karen Rogers, Sprouts Founder and Executive Director

Here at Sprouts, we strive to teach children, hands-on, that healthy, nutritional eating is fun by involving them in the entire process – from planting the seed and harvesting, to cooking, eating (and cleaning!) with real chefs. All of our classes are below-market-rate so that youth from all health, financial and social backgrounds can participate. Additional subsidies and scholarships are provided for those in need.
We are thrilled to have the support of Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver on our board. We are so grateful for the support of our 100+ community partners, including Girls Inc and the Unified School Districts in NYC, Oakland, SF and Berkeley.
We are proud to have our own organic garden and outdoor kitchen where the children harvest and cook with produce that they planted themselves. We even grocery shop with the children to teach them about budgeting and reading labels. We keep cooking REAL — the children cook, side-by-side, with real chefs from restaurants like Chez Panisse and Pizzaiolo, Tartine, and Boulevard. The kids consider these chefs culinary heroes; and what better role model than someone who believes so strongly in good food that they have dedicated their lives to it.

OUR BOARD OF ADVISORS

Alice Waters
Owner of Chez Panisse
Jamie Oliver
Chef and Restauranteur 
Chef Payton Paleaz
of Food Network and Chez Pay Catering
Mark Liberman
Executive Chef of Mago
Charlie Hallowell
Owner of Pizzaiolo, Penrose, Chef at Chez Panisse
Ryan Cole
of Stones’ Throw
Ryan Lowther
Lawyer at Farella Braun + Martel
Josh Perez
Executive Chef at Americano
Mark Gilfix
Lawyer at Gilfix + La Poll
John Mardikian
Chef/General Manager at Mua / nex Oakland
Lien Lien
Maricel Mojares- Moore
 
Background

Check out the people who make Sprouts so great!

WHAT OTHERS SAY

  • “Volunteering with sprouts was an awesome experience. Very smooth volunteer process, I’ve done it several times and get the right amount of reminders. Upon arrival, their operations director provides an overview of the program and then kids start arriving. The chefs always are excited to work with the kids and we always make such delicious foods and learn so much about cooking and health. It’s always awesome to see a shy or nervous child’s personality emerge while cooking. Sprouts is doing really amazing and necessary work in our community.”

    Casey A
    Event Assistant
  • “I felt that even in my short summer with this organization, I had made a large impact for many. My time with Sprouts Cooking Club has been challenging, equipping, and growing.  As an intern, I enjoyed dipping my hands in the many moving parts of this living and growing organization. It was a real joy and I hope to collaborate with Sprouts in the future!”

    Tiffany Xu
    Founder's Assistant
  • “The summer I spent interning with Sprouts was an extremely formative and engaging. Being able to enter a workplace where people are just as passionate and excited about food and the power it has in bringing people together as I am was amazing and really exciting. As soon as you join the team you are trusted with responsibilities and are made to feel like your opinions and work count for something in the larger organization. Working with a collaborative team was very helpful as I was able to gain real-time feedback and work through my tasks with the diverse perspectives of my team. Working with Sprouts has not only provided me with working experience but a community with a network that I know I can rely on.”

    Isabel Ling
    Office Assistant
  • “Sprouts’ coaching skills and outreach has significantly increased the employment and job retention rate of our students.”

    Life Learning Academy
  • “My 9 year-old daughter has participated in several sprouts club sessions and a full week of camp last summer. She loved her experience and it has been a catalyst for her to take a more and more active role in the kitchen at home!”

    Pamela
    Parent of aspiring Sprouts Chef
  • Giant thanks to you and your amazing team there at Sprouts. Bluma has not stopped raving about Sprouts since she came home. We feel very lucky that she got to spend the week learning with you all. And hope that she will have many more experiences with you all in the future. Thanks again.

    Michael
    A Sprouts parent
  • It’s a really fun experience when you have the power to do your own thing. After camp I went home and made my own salad– I liked the one that Chef Russell made at La Fitte did and so I made the green bean salad too.

    Natalya Mril, 9
  • Sprouts’ programs have a huge sense of reality because you really cook in restaurants hands-on with chefs. I feel really good about it because I know the ingredients I am using are a good quality. The slogan: ‘Learning what good food is about’ is really true.

    Julia Sweeney, 13
  • Gianna really enjoyed Sprouts this summer. I think it was fun for her to be in San Francisco and explore new neighborhoods and kitchens. When we drove home on Friday evening she insisted I pass by Andronico’s and buy a whole chicken…which she parted out beautifully the following evening for dinner! I have a real sous chef at home now! Thanks for a great experience.

    Andrea
    An appreciative Sprouts mom
  • Thank you so much to you and your team! Pria returned home from camp each night Inspired. She’s been cooking ever since, and teaching me as well! Last night she made fresh pasta with feta and basil. No doubt she will want to return next year. Thank you again for a top-notch, creative, and well-run camp.

    Rebecca
    An appreciative Sprouts mom
  • Sprouts is my favorite program ever because it combines all of my love of food and cooking with all my ideals about how things should be prepared. At Sprouts, you not only learn new techniques and recipes but you get the opportunity to practice them with the chefs who are teaching you!

    Julia
    An aspiring chef at Sprouts
  • We loved going to Lasalle, France with Sprouts and living with local people, going to school with kids our age, eating their local food and learning about their culture.

    The Rau Family
  • Sprouts is a unique cooking club for kids, which offers a first-class educational opportunity for culinary-minded children, who get to learn from some of the Bay Area’s best chefs–and be inspired by them. It’s like the Harvard of kids cooking clubs–a premier educational after-school learning opportunity that will develop the palettes and culinary minds of the lucky kids who attend.

    Amy Murray
    Owner and Head Chef, Venus Restaurant and Revival Restaurant
  • I love Sprouts because you are treated like any other chef in the kitchen, and you learn so many different and amazing skills. There are way too many favorite memories but one of the best was going on the culinary immersion to France in 2009. My favorite classes are the baking and dessert ones but the others are just as much fun too. Sprouts is amazing and I will never forget the experiences that I had with all the awesome chefs!!!

    Madeline
    An aspiring chef at Sprouts
  • I’ve been cooking since I was 7 or 8, but I’m learning more from one week with these chefs than all those years with my family.

    Elazar Sontag
    13, an aspiring chef at Sprouts
  • He really enjoys sharing stories about his experience with family and friends.  After the last day of his week 8 class, he wanted to stay in the city with me to have dinner to just chat about food.  I splurged and took him to Boulevard knowing that he had a class there earlier in the Spring.  We were having a great time and getting ready to head out after dinner when the server came to me holding the chef’s iPhone.  She asked if I recognized someone in the picture as she showed me a picture the chef had taken of Clark that weekend in the Spring.  Clark thought that was just the coolest thing.  After that fun conversation, the server took Clark back to watch the line cook.  It really was a great day.

    Vince Gamick
    Parent of aspiring Sprouts chef
  • Sprouts stands out for allowing children into the kitchens of working, professional chefs.

    The New York Times

GET IN TOUCH


BAY : (207) 233-2757
NYC : (814) 853-2804
Sprouts Office

3206 Hannah Street
Office #1
Oakland CA 94608 
 

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