by Julie Pinomaki
Most teens would have preferred to stay in bed on a dark, rainy weekend morning. But for the girls at Brittany’s Place the kitchen was full of laughter and the sound of sizzling rice. It was time for the Lunch Bunch, the weekly cooking class at the St. Paul shelter for sexually-exploited girls ages 10-17. The girls learn to read recipes, chop vegetables, brown hamburger, and fry rice—and then get an opportunity to taste new foods.
Along the way, the girls also learn about nutrition and good health. “I don’t want mushrooms!” says one girl, “Ick, no broccoli!” The other girls tell her she needs to eat more vegetables. “You’re too picky!” says another.
Even though they are typical—sometimes moody—teens, the girls are obviously eager for the attention of the staff, and they thrive in the positive atmosphere of the shelter. When this week’s lunch, fried rice and egg rolls, is ready, the staff and girls sit together to talk, to enjoy their food, and to start planning the menu for next week.
What better way to start making positive choices in your life…than with a plate full of good food and company to help support for your next step!