NEW ORLEANS (press release) – After a successful one-year pilot program, Son of a Saint is expanding and enhancing its nutrition programming over the next year with the support of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. As part of its 2021 fall grants cycle, the Foundation awarded $48,000 to Son of a Saint for the creation of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation – Son of a Saint Nutrition Program. The financial support helped bring on nutrition education specialist Nikki Martens, who develops individual nutrition plans for over 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 board members and others in attendance. The Emeril Lagasse Foundation – Son of a Saint Nutrition Program allows mentees to become the healthiest version of themselves. They learn the basics of nutrition by reading food labels and looking at ingredient lists; they also discover how nutrition affects academic and athletic performance and more. One of the latest program enhancements (made possible with grant funding from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation) focuses on the mothers and guardians of the mentees. For the boys to be successful, it is essential for the mothers/guardians to be a part of the process. This two-generational approach aims to educate mothers on the importance of making healthier choices and how to do that. An impactful part of this programming is accompanying each guardian to the grocery store and supporting them financially in making healthy swaps and having better options available in their homes. Son of a Saint is also implementing Ochsner’s Eat Fit Nola curriculum CHOP (Cooking Up Healthy Options and Portions), an 8-week cooking program designed to help kids become comfortable navigating the kitchen and learn 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 culinary arts as a potential career path (for the mentees).

“The sustained and increased support from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation has enabled us to expand the nutrition programming at Son of a Saint,” said Sonny Lee III, Son of a Saint Founder and CEO. “The young men in this program will benefit from the well-rounded program we can provide, and research proves that a higher quality diet is associated with better performance on exams and helps to keep students on task.”

“Son of a Saint shares our vision of helping more kids work towards their full potential,” said Brian Kish, president of the Foundation. “Our ongoing partnership impacts more than just the young men in the program; it extends out to their families and friends, and ultimately our community. We are proud to support Son of a Saint.”

Son of a Saint holistically sponsors youth between the ages of 10 and 21, providing mentorship, education, mental health services, travel experiences to expand horizons, life skills, and internship and career-development learning opportunities. Since 2011, the organization has increased its class of mentees from 10 boys in its inaugural year to its current slate of more than 200 young men—a twentyfold 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 forward to its bold future to reach more young men and provide a strong model for success in youth development. To date, the high school graduation rate, ACT scores, and college enrollment are charting higher than the local and state average. Above all else, Son of a Saint offers the promising young men enrolled in the organization dedicated exposure, examples, and opportunities for all that can be achieved. It is an actionable answer and solution to the societal issue surrounding how to provide meaningful guidance and impactful mentorship to our community’s youth.