Teens Learn About Food, Life At SoZo Center

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A few weeks ago, it was Taivian Luster's turn to cook dinner for students at the SoZo Teen Center in Watertown.

For Luster, it was a big change.

"Before I was in the culinary class I would eat junk food, like half of the day, and sometimes I wouldn't eat dinner," she said.

"I would just eat a bag of chips and go to sleep."

Luster gets a hand from Tony Gullo, the program coordinator, who helps prepare the meals.

"We have some kids coming in here and the first time they pick up a knife, they're not quite sure how to do it, but by the end of the course, they have a firm grasp not only on the knife but a lot of food service principles as well," Gullo said, "so you really see their self-confidence grow throughout the program."

You can see it in Luster as she puts a meal together for the others.

"Being able to walk into the teen center and students know that you're able to cook a meal for them," she said.

Gullo said cooking at the center can translate into a job cooking in the real world.

"There's been fruit from it, too," he said. "They've gotten some jobs in the fast-food market through the skills that they've learned here."

It's full plate of life lessons are learned in the kitchen, and the food looks pretty good, too.

The teens get a chance to cook meals two or three times a week. The program is open to all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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