As a restaurant, we try to create extraordinary experiences, weaving together memory and imagination, nature and craft, tradition and innovation. We work at a rarified level, devoting a remarkable amount of resources to every aspect of the meal. It’s very far away from survival food. But we never forget what it means to cook for someone, or the basic human desire to care for and nourish others.
For many years, we’ve given gift certificates and fed hordes of people at charity events, but it never felt like we were really making a difference. So, beginning this year, we’ve decided to do something different: partner intensively with one charity for a year or two at a time, and help them in various ways.
For 2011 and 2012, we chose to support Larkin Street Youth Services, who every year change the lives of thousands of youths who might otherwise not make it to adulthood. We are providing externships to youths who are interested in pursuing a culinary career. And we are helping to change the way that Larkin Street feeds the kids, sourcing better products, teaching their workers how to cook, giving the kids healthy food and new taste memories that will last their entire lives.
We are also starting a garden on public school property in Oakland, where we can grow food for both the restaurants and the kids. Because ingredients are useless without the skill to transform them into cuisine, we are also starting free cooking classes for not only youths in the Larkin Street program, but low-income kids and their parents, to teach them the basic cooking skills that have been lost over the last several generations.
We are also hosting benefits throughout the year, at both Coi and Plum, to raise both money and awareness. We encourage you to learn more about Larkin Street, and to get involved in some way, by donating money, time or services. Visit their website at www.larkinstreet.org, or call Kathie Lowrie at 415-673-0911, extension 301.
About Larkin Street Youth Services
Larkin Street Youth Services is a San Francisco social service organization, helping youth ages 12 to 24 who are living on the streets through no fault of their own. Founded in 1984, Larkin Street is an internationally recognized leader in their field, providing innovative services to at-risk, homeless and runaway youths. With 25 programs and 13 sites, Larkin Street provides the youths with the full spectrum of support they need: shelter, medical care, counseling, education and job training. Their mission is to give them the opportunity they deserve to reach their full potential as adults.
There are over 5,700 kids living on the streets or at risk of homelessness in San Francisco. For most of them, the streets are safer than the homes they came from.
Larkin Street serves 64% of these youth, and operates 85% of the housing allocated to them. Their programs are highly effective: 76% of the youth who complete Larkin Street’s comprehensive programs exit street life.
At Larkin Street, they believe that all kids deserve the opportunity to achieve healthy independence. Larkin Street provides a place where these kids can finally feel safe and start to rebuild their sense of trust and self-respect, learn school, life and job skills, and find the confidence to build a future.