Hurricane Maria Evacuee Finds Success in the Kitchen

Many people have a defining moment that shapes their lives. For some, it is college graduation, for others, it is the first time they strum a guitar. For almost five years, Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program has been the catalyst in creating life defining moments for adults looking for a second chance at a sustainable career in the kitchen.

“This is an important opportunity for me,” explains Katherine. “It is a chance for a solid foundation.”

Katherine is just weeks away from completing Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program as part of the first Spanish-language class. In the past she has worked at a bakery, but steady work has been a challenge. Then, last fall, Hurricane Maria devastated her town in Puerto Rico.

“It was crazy to wake up and not recognize your home,” she recalls. “We lost almost everything. I would stand in lines for two hours, or more, for food, for gas. No one could work.” Katherine stayed with an aunt until she and her sister could travel to Orlando.

Since arriving in Orlando and enrolling in the Culinary Training Program, Katherine has learned the value of following through on a commitment. “When I came to Second Harvest, I knew this program would help me to be successful,” Katherine says.

By coming to class every day Katherine has learned important life skills, like communication and time management. She has learned how to properly use a knife, understand a recipe and execute a variety menus. She had never tried Indian food before, and now she can make curry.

“For me, this is a dream come true and I am thankful,” says Katherine.

Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program has a 100% placement rate in better than minimum wage jobs. Local employers continue to seek out highly trained people, like Katherine.

Interested in learning more about the Second Harvest Culinary Training Program? Contact Idala Nunez at 407-514-1037 or email

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