Seattle Times: STARTS program trains youth and changes culture

The Seattle Times profiled the Students Taking Agriculture ‘Round The Streets (STARTS) program, which puts youth to work in a kitchen while teaching them valuable skills to help them get a job. The program, funded primarily by the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, was started by Cortona Cafe co-owner Jason Davison and is operated out of the kitchen at Immaculate Conception Church at 18th and Marion.

From the Times:

The goal is to teach the teens the ins and outs of urban agriculture, farming, healthful cooking practices and business basics.

“I’m not trying to just throw money at kids,” Davison said of the paid internship program that started in June and ends next week. “They’re here to work.”

The program is funded primarily through the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative and Davison and his colleagues are working on ways to extend the funding to keep the program going through the fall.

Their aim is to train youngsters for success while changing the culture of the low-income neighborhoods where many of them live. For them, food choices may be limited to convenience stores that sell processed and sugar-laden snacks — and not apples, tomatoes or strawberries.

“If you change the way people think, then you can fight the obesity, diabetes and other diseases that affect them,” he said, referring to chronic health problems that are common among low-income families and communities of color.

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