High School students help feed cancer patients

January 8, 2013 8:40:40 PM PST
Here's a sobering fact: in Sonoma County alone, there are 3,000 new cancer diagnoses every year. That means three 3,000 and their families are struggling with the impact of treatments and life complications. ABC7 News takes a look at a non-profit group that's making the healing process easier.

The daily tasks we take for granted might include entering the kitchen, making a meal. Try it sometime when recovering from leukemia treatments.

"I could lay in bed and just not eat," said Darlene Ste. Croix.

It was a complete and staggering change from the life Ste. Croix used to have as a mechanic for Federal Express -- an illness that just came on one day.

"I was tired, went home, had a chest pain, went to the hospital," said Ste. Croix.

Based on the diagnosis, she should be gone by now. She says she has outlived it. Thanks to the mostly high school kids who volunteer to work in one particular kitchen.

"...Nothing to do with college, at all, it's just fun for me," said Rebecca Baxley, a senior at Analy High School.

Baxley will swim on a scholarship for the University of Texas next year. In the meantime, her work at the non-profit, called "Ceres," taught her how to cook and taught all of these kids about how lucky they are to be healthy.

"The purpose is to both empower these teenagers to learn about the connection between food and health. For them to get connected with their community," said Rob Hobencamp, the Ceres chef. He is a combination of chef and teacher. "You grab those from the side, you'll have better leverage."

Every one of the meals will be for critically ill people like Ste. Croix. and their families.

"I'd spend six to eight hours at UCSF getting a treatment and commuting and come home and be exhausted and hungry, and go, 'What are you going to eat?'" said Ste. Croix.

It's a complicated menu for teens. If they lose track, it's posted on the refrigerator. Chicken legs, vegetables, mushrooms? all that for 65 people and it's a bargain.

Ceres provides four meals a week, plus extras, all tailored to individual patient needs for free.

"It was more than them just showing up on a Thursday night with a bag of food. It was like, the interest is from start to finish," said Ste. Croix.

So, in a world where you hear mostly about people on the take, here's something good to take away. Teenage kids thinking beyond themselves so much, in fact, that they have helped extend a life.

"I am alive today because we eat well like this, yes," said Ste. Croix.


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