Michel’le Snell grew up with her grandmother and the two spent many days in the kitchen making family recipes. But when her grandmother’s house was foreclosed, Michel’le and her three daughters had to find a new place to live. With no job and no car, she spent her income tax refund on two month’s rent.
When her past work experience in customer service didn’t lead to any new opportunities, Michel’le, a single mother, turned to Christian Service Center to help feed her girls, then ages 2, 3 and 4. “I was in dire need,” she recalls.
Then one day her pastor told her about Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program.
“I saw this an opportunity and I took it,” said Michel’le. “It was a fresh start, a chance to grow and to provide a better life for my family.”
Completing the program taught Michel’le more than cooking skills and how to begin a new career. She learned how to make a plan to tackle challenges, like transportation, expenses and daycare for her kids. “There were times I wanted to quit,” she admits. “My classmates and I, we all faced challenges, but the instructors poured inspiration into us every day. They pushed my limits, helped me build my confidence and affirmed that I could do this. I could be a chef.”
After graduation, Michel’le worked at a resort hotel, a local restaurant and in corporate catering. The long hours, nights and weekends weren’t conducive to family life.
“When I started down this path it was a chance to provide for my kids,” Michel’le said. “Their well-being had to come first.”
That’s when she got a call to interview for a kitchen manager job at a local daycare center. Today Michel’le is responsible for the ordering, inventory, menu planning and execution of breakfast, lunch and snacks at Park Lake Presbyterian Child Care Center.
“I set out to feed my kids and now I prepare nutritious meals for 96 kids every single day.”
Second Harvest is highlighting past Culinary Training students on social media all month to celebrate the program’s fifth anniversary. Follow along with #chefstoriesofhope on Instagram to hear their stories.
Or, view stories from the Darden Foundation Community Kitchen here.
And, to learn more about, or apply for the program, visit www.feedhopenow.org/culinarytraining.