Santa Clara University


Green Pea Therapy

Reaching kids who need it

Homegirl Café: Rima Barkett gives a lesson in L.A.
Photo: Courtesy of Claudia Pruett

Through their A Tavola Together Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy cooking and eating to schoolage children, partners Claudia Pruett and Rima Barkett teach students how to incorporate life skills as they share basic cooking instructions. With the program the foundation launched, Kids Can Cook 2, Pruett and Barkett visit classrooms and serve community youth associations and children’s homes in the Stockton area.

“Foster kids are in and out, and you never know what their situation is,” Pruett says. “We spend a few hours with them, and they get to cook, and they have so much fun. It’s someone paying attention to them—someone other than a counselor or a social worker.”

Pruett and Barkett also teach quarterly cooking classes at Homegirl Café in Los Angeles. The café is an outgrowth of Homeboy Industries, which is directed by Greg Boyle, S.J., and offers positive alternatives for gang members and at-risk youth. Homegirl provides a training ground dedicated to young women and girls in all aspects of the restaurant and service industry. The 86-seat eatery is open to the public for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and tends its own organic garden to supply fresh vegetables and herbs for the café.

For the kick-off cooking session, Pruett taught the girls how to make Fettuccine Alfredo, chicken cutlets, and sauteed peas. “I even got one of them to try peas—which she said she hated—and now she likes them!” Pruett says. On the menu for Pruett’s second lesson: risotto, scampi, and Caesar salad.