Cookie Cart is a youth employment program in the Twin Cities that provides teens 15 to 18 years old with meaningful work, life, and leadership skills through paid work experience and training. This year’s stay-at-home requirements meant that youth have been working mostly virtually, and CAA has played a vital role in providing those experiences.
After COVID hit, youth told Cookie Cart leaders that they wanted to spend the summer focusing on health and wellness skills. Tamuno Imbu, CAA’s community organizer, reached out to partner with them. Tamuno provided online plant-based cooking courses (and free ingredients for youth to participate), trauma response support in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, and a broader context to plant-based eating through an online farm sanctuary tour and screening of the movie The Invisible Vegan, which focuses on veganism in the African-American community.
In the course of this work, Tamuno met with youth online twice a week to coach outreach skills and identity-building, while Cookie Cart program educators taught customer service skills, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking. Both Tamuno Imbu and Laura Matanah from CAA mentored youth working at the Camden Farmers Market to be in community and find their voice in an in-person, outreach setting. CAA volunteer, Yosan Worota, joined Tamuno to facilitate conversations on social media marketing strategies. Youth have been paid by Cookie Cart for their participation in all of these classes and activities.
As you can imagine, the youth we engaged through this partnership are extremely curious and anxious about what the future holds for them. CAA is excited to develop a partnership that will allow these young people to learn about the world of animal advocacy and explore what it means to have a plant-based lifestyle.
More recently, CAA partnered with Cookie Cart to create a new, 100% plant-based cookie, and we’ve been teaching youth about Marketing and Sales as part of the development of this new menu item. After multiple flavor considerations, a sprinkle cookie was tried and tested. We featured the Vegan Sprinkle Cookie at the Camden Farmers Market and the Northeast Farmers Market in Minneapolis and are currently working on keeping it in their cookie lineup.