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Audrey Grevious Center + FoodChain partnership supports new interest and skills for local students

Learn about the unique partnership the gives students the opportunity to create delicious meals from garden to plate.

Two students cutting cucumbers on colorful cutting boards with bowls of peppers, carrots, and herbs in front of them.

Students get hands-on experience creating dishes from start to finish. | Photo provided by Audrey Grevious Center

As the school year comes to a close, we wanted to share an inspiring partnership forged in local food — the Audrey Grevious Center (AGC) + FoodChain.

For those that may not know, AGC is a collaborative effort between Fayette County Public Schools + Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, which offers educational and therapeutic services for adjudicated youths ages 13-18. Most students have been involved in the court system or have struggled with truancy.

The special program provides students with a safe space — the staff utilize trauma-informed practices — to get back on track so they can complete high school.

Classrooms typically have 6-10 students with a program aid present along with each teacher. There’s also social workers on staff to offer support for de-escalation + mental wellbeing.

A hand holding a flaky pastry filled with red jam and topped with frosting.

One of the menu items the students got to make was a raspberry hand pie. | Photo provided by AGC

As part of the program, AGC aims to expose the students to a variety of experiences. One way is through a partnership with local nonprofit FoodChain.

“AGC has been a great partner through the years,” said Kristin Hughes, Director of Education and Outreach at Food Chain. “Since beginning these classes four years ago, we have seen students open up more about their own food cultures, show excitement to try something new, and increased their own food literacy.”

Once a week, FoodChain comes to the school to lead educational food classes with the students. During this time, students follow step-by-step instructions to create dishes made from locally grown fruits + veggies.

“It’s nice to see them have a learning experience that isn’t necessarily a traditional academic experience,” said Giselle Boulanger, a teacher at AGC. “To see them learning about things that are hands-on, and exposing them to different foods that they wouldn’t normally have access to— it’s really great.”

And the students seem to agree. “We made something that was described to us as a Japanese Pancake (the official name is Okonomiyaki). There were fish flakes on it. I was surprised that I liked it because I had never tried anything like it. It was really good,” said one 9th grade student. “I have learned that it takes time and patience to cook + that food won’t always come out exactly as you expect,” another 9th grader said.

Some of the dishes students have created from start to finish are:

  • Arepas con queso
  • Beet ravioli
  • Margherita pizza
  • Spring rolls
  • Raspberry hand pies

“We are creating future food leaders in the youth we provide these lessons to. As a result, they are more food curious, feel pride in what they create, and are learning important job readiness skills,” said Hughes. “We are having more positive conversations about food, seeing teamwork at play, and challenging students to step outside of their comfort zones.”