Sam & Louis Teach Kids to Cook

These 16-year-olds are teaching kids to cook—with an ugly twist!


When Louis Hoffman began tutoring immigrant children in a poor section of his Pennsylvania town, he noticed many people weren’t able to find food that was both affordable and nutritious. (This is known as food insecurity.) Determined to help, he enlisted the aid of his friend Sam Caplan. “It wasn’t fair that these kids didn’t have the same access to food we did,” Louis says. 


The pair dreamed up Food for a Friend, a cooking class that teaches students how to use “ugly” food (fruits and vegetables that are thrown away or sold at discounted prices because they’re damaged or deformed). A grocery store donated $200 for ingredients—and because ugly produce is cheaper, they were able to stock up. 


On the day of their first class, Louis and Sam worried that no one would show up . . . but more than 20 students arrived, eager to make hummus! They now host Food for a Friend once a month and plan to expand the program when they go to college next year. They’re also looking for students to take over the original program.

“We’re teaching self-sufficiency and cooking habits that help kids take charge of their own health,” says Louis. Adds Sam: “We hope we reach even more students in the future."

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