It starts in the kitchen!

The Sylvia Center teaches young people how to build healthier lives through food and become healthy food advocates within their communities.

The roots of health disparities start to develop in childhood:

Consume at least one sugary beverage daily

Are overweight or obese

Eat less than recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables

With our programming, young people take control of what they put on their plate.

“I don’t like vegetables, but when I tried them altogether in the fried rice, I liked them.”

– Full Plate student, 1st grade

“I can taste all the flavors, it tastes so good!”

– Cooks for Health student, 4th grade

“Thanks to this program, I am a healthy food advocate for my family, my community, and – most importantly – for myself.”

– Precious, 2019 Teen Culinary Apprenticeship Alumni

Our Curriculum

Provides evidence-based nutrition education to help students make healthier choices.

Ensures students follow proper sanitation and hygiene guidelines as outlined by our in-house sanitation expert.

Delves into the science of food with cooking and baking experiments.

Challenges our students to think critically with STEAM style approaches.

Transforms students into advocates for their communities through food justice lessons and activities.

Our Programs

Full Plate

Our Full Plate programming aims to provide young people with a connection between the food they eat and where it comes from.  

In our Full Plate in the Classroom program, a Sylvia Center community chef provides a series of three or more lessons to preschool or elementary youth.  The curriculum is designed to inspire food exploration, provide nutrition education, and the skills to prepare a healthy snack.  Whenever possible, we pair our Full Plate in the Classroom lesson with a Full Plate on the Farm visit.  

A range of ages, from preschool to college, join us on the farm for our Full Plate on the Farm programming.  Participants experience, first hand, the connection of food to farm while learning about agriculture, cooking, and nutrition.  These programs involve a farm tour, activities in our learning Garden, and preparing one or more recipes in our outdoor kitchen space. 

Cooks for Health


Our Cooks for Health programming provides culinary and nutrition education to youth, teens, and families.  In a series of 6-12 classes, participants learn basic cooking skills, knife and kitchen safety and sanitation while preparing a healthy meal or snack.  The role nutrition plays is emphasized as well as food justice.  

  • Cooks for Health Youth and Teens: Youth and teens build their skills and confidence through a series of lessons beginning with kitchen safety and ending with sharing a balanced, healthy plate with their community. 
    • CFH Youth is offered to elementary and middle school students
    • CFH Teen is offered to 13-18 year olds. 
  • Cooks for Health Family:  In our CFH Family classes, youth 7-13 are joined by a parent or guardian in the kitchen.  A Sylvia Center community chef walks families through six lessons ranging from food exploration to creating a healthy balanced plate.  Each class focuses on one or more wholesome recipes.  

Teen Culinary Apprenticeship

The Teen Culinary Apprenticeship is a 54-hour training program that prepares teens to become peer advocates for health and nutrition. The program culminates with the participants serving as paid Teen Chef Instructors at NYC summer camps, teaching youth in their community about healthy food and where it comes from. Throughout the credit-bearing apprenticeship, teens learn foundational culinary skills, hygiene and sanitation, food science, nutrition, and food justice.

  • Students explore the components of a healthy plate and learn the benefits of a plant-forward way of eating. 
  • Students participate in food industry-related field trips and are visited by professionals in their classes. 
  • Students gain insights on potential careers and have opportunities to develop their public speaking and presentation skills.

To learn more about our programs

If you are interested in Virtual Cooking Classes
with The Sylvia Center 

Learn More

Our Program Partners



In New York City, this means strategically partnering with community-based organizations that provide after-school programming in community centers and schools. We partner to provide our programs to their enrolled students. The majority of these programs sites are on NYCHA properties or associated with public schools.  

In Columbia County, we partner with public schools, as well as other youth-serving organizations and community-based organizations, to bring our programs into the community and onto our Learning Garden at Katchkie Farm. We cast a wide net to bring interested groups in for place-based learning on the farm and rely on volunteers for supporting these immersive days.

If you are not local to Columbia County & New York City, please look into our virtual programming because we would love to have you join our classes. Click here