More Program Highlights


Each Saturday, a group of our older youth participates in our cooking program. They prepare healthy, hot lunches for our participants and volunteers and are instructed in cooking techniques from trained staff.

This activity has helped take the mystery out of food preparation and the youth are serious about this endeavor. Each week, youth choose a head chef, who wears the red apron and leads the others on the day’s meal preparation.  

The food program offers a variety of benefits. First our youth learn tangible skills such as how to use kitchen appliances, how to mix, measure and proportion ingredients and how to create a healthy and nutritious meal.

In addition, this experience builds confidence and leadership skills.  The students take pride in the food they prepare and realize the rewards in preparing a meal for others.

Some of our teen cooks work towards their Safe Serv certification through our cooking program under the guidance of our food program coordinator.  

We are always looking for experienced volunteers to teach the youth. If you are interested in sharing your cooking expertise, please fill out our volunteer application.


It is a well-established fact that West Oakland residents face lack of access to grocery stores and fresh fruits and vegetables.  For over 5 years now, Oakland Youth Aspire has been providing healthy food to program participants and their families to address this issue.

The Food Distribution program has 3 main activities:  1.) healthy snacks upon arrival, 2.) hot and healthy lunches and 3.) take-home grocery distribution for youth and their families.

The goals of Food Distribution program are for youth to feel nourished during their time with us and when they go home.  We encourage them to share information and resources about eating healthy foods with their families.  Through this program we increase access to healthy food and nutritional information.

If you are interested in donating food items or if you know of a business  or grocery market that is interested in partnering with us for grocery distribution, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="line-height: 1.3em;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Your support will have substantial impact for our youth and for the West Oakland community. 


Each Saturday, we make it a priority for the youth to feel valued and respected at the program. Written by our participants, our “Agreement” is;

-Be respectful to others and myself

-One mic (one speaker at a time)

-Try to do my best

-Have fun

At the end of the day we hold an “Appreciation Circle” where the youth share their gratitude for others. Youth may appreciate another participant whom they enjoyed getting to spend time with, a volunteer that took extra care to help them solve a math problem or someone who taught them how to play hoops outside.  

Selected by the board members and volunteers, we reward youth that go the extra mile during the day’s activities and at the end of the program award the “Kid of the Day” with a special treat.