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.

Through our programs, young people learn essential skills in the kitchen and gain the confidence to make healthier choices now, and in the future. Young people are applying the skills they learn in our cooking classes to other areas of their life and becoming advocates for healthy communities.

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I can’t wait to cook for my mom when I get home.

– Kelvin, Katchkie Farm Student

Our Students

Learn essential skills in the kitchen, so they can cook simple, healthy meals at home.

Gain confidence through cooking and doing something that’s good for them and their families.

Make healthy choices. Now, and in the future. 

Apply skills they learn in cooking class to other areas of their lives. Skills, such as: teamwork, problem solving, and time management. 

Become advocates for healthy eating by teaching others and demonstrating leadership in their own communities.

Our Programs

Fresh Food

To learn more or book a program
Call 518-758-2170

The Sylvia Center partners directly with public schools through our Full Plate (in the Classroom/on the Farm) Programs so that young people can learn the connection between healthy food and the farm.

Through a series of 3-6 seasonal lessons, students discover where whole foods come from, practice basic culinary skills, and get the opportunity to prepare a wholesome meal together. Our programs are adapted to be age and setting appropriate for Elementary, Junior High and High schools.

Full Plate

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Cooks For Health is a twelve-week, after-school series that teaches participants basic culinary skills necessary to prepare simple, wholesome recipes from start to finish. While learning to cook, participants explore the important role nutrition plays in building healthy bodies and minds.

The program also provides opportunities for students to share their skills and excitement with their own community through student-led Tasting Tables, and culminates with a Cook Off for Health. 

The Sylvia Center conducts these programs with 

  • Youth (7- 12 years of age)
  • Teens (13-18 years of age)
  • Families (adults and their children). 

Sign Up for Farm Camp 

Community Table

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The Teen Culinary Apprenticeship is a 60-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 how to identify, taste and cook with fresh food. Throughout the credit-bearing apprenticeship, teens learn foundational culinary skills – from basic knife skills to various cooking methods and techniques. 

  • 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.

Where We Work

Our work depends largely on strong relationships with outstanding partner organizations in the community.


In New York City, this means strategically partnering with community-based organizations that provide after-school programming in community centers and schools in underserved neighborhoods. 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.

For our older youth in both locations, we partner directly with high schools and youth organizations to recruit our students and ensure academic credit and paid work are provided as part of their learning experience. These students are taught in professional kitchen spaces and connected with a variety of opportunities within the food industry. 



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