Local teens cook up meals for evacuees, firefighters

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Teens in Santa Fe are volunteering to feed firefighters battling the state’s wildfires and the thousands of people forced to evacuate.

They’re using the Santa Fe Community College kitchen to cook up ready-to-eat meals.

“The most meals that we’ve done is almost 6,000 meals a day when it was getting really, really bad as things are going we’re trying to reach all the communities that need it and aren’t able to get to other food sources,” said Jacqueline Gibbs, YouthWorks culinary director.  

YouthWorks is a nonprofit helping at-risk youth, and Gibbs says the teens are also gaining valuable culinary skills.

“Our social justice kitchen is a big thing that we’re trying to New Mexico and to our community because it’s really needed. It’s something that can help deter our youth from stuff that’s happening in our communities like violence and crimes and stuff like that,” said Gibbs. 

YouthWorks partnered with World Central Kitchen – another non-profit that responds to disasters to provide hot meals.

Sandie Orsa with World Central Kitchen says they’re making about 3,000 meals each day.

“Since we’ve been on the ground, I think today or tomorrow we might actually hit 30,000 hot meals served, which we’re really proud of. A lot of hard work and love has gone into all of those meals,” said Orsa. 

They’re sending the meals to distribution sites around the state, giving firefighters and evacuees some much-needed comfort food.

“Because as we all know, hot meals are comforting, they are nurturing, they inspire hope and they bring communities together. I mean, who doesn’t love to sit around a table and share a meal with their closest family and friends,” Orsa said. 

If you’re interested in getting involved, visit YouthWorks and World Central Kitchen’s website to volunteer.