Changing Lives: Training Adults, Feeding Kids
The Food Bank’s Community Kitchen job training program provides free culinary training to low-income and unemployed adults who are ready to make a change in their life. Over the course of 14 weeks, each class of 13 students prepares 22,000 meals for the Food Bank’s Kids Cafe program, which provides after-school meals to children in high-need areas.
Students learn far more than culinary skills. In addition to becoming certified in food safety, they acquire work and life skills that help them succeed in a competitive marketplace. Approximately 92% of Community Kitchen graduates find employment in the hospitality industry within one year of graduation.
Ten weeks into the program, students in Class 53 spoke out about how they see their futures unfolding. Many have already found new jobs, but just as important, they have gained a new outlook on life.
“Five years ago, I was on a road to destruction. Throughout my life, I started a lot of things, but I never accomplished a lot. I never had the book knowledge or any kind of training until now. It boosts my confidence a lot. I see my life changing in many ways. Aspirations and dreams -- I really have them. This has given me a chance to finally start something, go through it, and finish it. It’s opening a lot of doors, giving me opportunities I never had. My vision now is: I can get there if I can try. It’s setting me in the right direction.”
“I’m able to go out into the world and see what it’s like in the food industry. Community Kitchen has opened my eyes about how you can prepare food in many different ways. My children like it, too. When I learn new things, I make it for them at home. They’re excited for me. Now, when I get up with them in the morning, I get dressed and go off to school. They see that I’m motivated and I’m doing something and I’m happy. I come home tired, but I’ve put a day’s work in, so they appreciate that.”
“I’m getting hands-on training, and I’m certified in food safety now, which means I’ll have a pay increase. I actually already got a job at White Glove Catering. I was also asked if I wanted a job at my internship at Dave’s Marketplace. Before I came to Community Kitchen, I looked six months and only landed a minimum wage job at a fast food coffee shop. I’m not even done with the program, and I’ve got two jobs. I discovered I could do it. I could get a career and not just a job. I can go to better places and move my way up.”
“How has my life changed? A 360, a total turnaround. I feel like I’ve got a chance at life now. When I came here, I didn’t have any hope. I was on a sinking ship and it was going down. These teachers put in the work with you. I just feel like a changed man. If I wore glasses, I would say I have a new lens. I see the world as a different place.”
“My life has changed for the better. I didn’t have a culinary background. I was a soldier. I served in Iraq. I got wounded and had to leave after spending 16 years of my life in the military. I was very introverted. The first couple of weeks they wanted us to present in front of the whole class. I didn’t want to get up in front of people. But I did it. I learned how to communicate with people. I just found out I got a job at the Capitol Grille, where I interned.”