GERMANTOWN (WPVI) --It was the regular pre-lunch hustle in the Covenant House Pennsylvania kitchen Wednesday in Philadelphia's Germantown section - accompanied by a little fanfare.
The ribbon was cut on the newly-renovated kitchen and dining area. An $80,000 project for the facility that serves runaway, homeless and trafficked youth 21 and under.
"I was on the streets so I came here just looking for a way to build my life," said 18-year-old Keir Carlson-Dow.
Many in the 51-bed center stay for a month or two before getting the help they need to transition into jobs, education and more stable housing. The cafeteria is where they congregate.
"Although some of us didn't really have a family, the Covenant House and the youth, it's like our siblings," said 21-year-old Davyone Holley.
"They like home cooked meals. A lot of the kids, I don't think they get home cooked meals," said Miss Dee, chef.
One of the chefs, Miss Dee, loves the updated equipment. But that's only part of it.
"You know when you feed people they say it's a way to a person's heart. And when you see the kids happy, it's a good thing. It makes you feel good," said Miss Dee.
A group of for-profit businesses led by the Brown Family of Brown's Super Stores partnered to sponsor the project. New counters, kitchen equipment, a dishwasher. Plus, touches like the stained glass help make it feel more like home.
"When a young person walks through these doors and sees a beautiful, warm space, it sends them a powerful, powerful message. That someone cares," said John Ducoff, executive director, Covenant House.
We're told when you first walk through the doors of covenant house, the cafeteria is one of the first stops because you're asked if you're hungry and if you want something to eat.
Last year, the facility served 512 young people. The had to turn away 546 more because they were full.
The goal here is to nourish bodies as well as minds.
"It builds you up. Like when I came to Covenant House, it build me up to make me undestand I would be OK doing this by myself. It gave me strength," said 20-year-old Derek Waters.