NEW ORLEANS (press release) – After a successful year-long pilot program, Son of a Saint is expanding and enhancing its nutrition programming over the next year with support from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. As part of its Fall 2021 grant cycle, the Foundation awarded $48,000 to Son of a Saint for the establishment of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation – Son of a Saint Nutrition Program. The financial support helped bring in nutrition education specialist Nikki Martens, who develops individual nutrition plans for more than 200 mentees while teaching them the importance of a healthy diet rich in fresh foods.
On March 11, three mentees participated in a nutritional cooking demonstration for local council members and others in attendance. The Emeril Lagasse Foundation – Son of a Saint nutrition program helps mentees become the healthiest version of themselves. They learn the basics of nutrition by reading food labels and reviewing ingredient lists; they also discover how nutrition affects academic and athletic performance and more. One of the latest enhancements to the program (made possible through a grant from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation) focuses on the mothers and guardians of mentees. For boys to succeed, it is essential that mothers/guardians are part of the process. This bi-generational approach aims to educate mothers about the importance of making healthier choices and how to do so. An impactful part of this program is accompanying each Guardian to the grocery store and supporting them financially to make healthy exchanges and have better options available at home. Son of a Saint also implements the CHOP (Cooking Up Healthy Options and Portions) program from Ochsner’s Eat Fit Nola program, an 8-week cooking program designed to help children learn about cooking and how to cook a meal from start to finish. The hope is that the skills taught in this program combined with the knowledge gained in the nutrition program will open up the culinary arts as a potential career path (for mentees).
“The continued and increased support of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation has allowed us to expand Son of a Saint’s nutritional programming,” said Sonny Lee III, Founder and CEO of Son of a Saint. “Young men in this program will benefit from the well-rounded program we can provide, and research proves that higher quality nutrition is associated with better exam performance and helps keep students focused on their tasks.”
“Son of a Saint shares our vision of helping more children reach their full potential,” said Brian Kish, President of the Foundation. “Our ongoing partnership doesn’t just impact the young men in the program; it extends to their families and friends, and ultimately to our community. We are proud to support Son of a Saint.
Son of a Saint holistically sponsors youth ages 10-21, providing mentorship, education, mental health services, travel experiences to expand horizons, life skills and career opportunities. internship learning and career development. Since 2011, the organization has grown its class of mentees from 10 boys in its inaugural year to its current roster of more than 200 young men – a twenty-fold increase in its first decade of existence.
In 2022, as Son of a Saint celebrates 11 years of impact, service and success, the organization looks to its bold future to reach more young men and provide a strong model for success in youth development. To date, high school graduation rates, ACT scores, and college enrollment are above the local and national average. Above all, Son of a Saint offers promising young men enrolled in the organization dedicated exposure, examples, and opportunities for all that can be achieved. It is a concrete answer and solution to the societal problem surrounding how to provide meaningful guidance and impactful mentorship to young people in our community.