On Friday, June 13, Second Harvest Food Bank held a graduation ceremony for nine graduates of its Culinary Training Program, which provides qualified, at-risk and economically disadvantaged adults with the skills needed to pursue a sustainable career in the food industry. All nine of the graduates have quality jobs lined up, and several started work that week. Pat Williams, co-founder and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, served as the keynote speaker.
The 14-week program was provided to students at no charge. Students received food service training that included hands-on cooking and kitchen experiences, similar to the curriculum of professional culinary institutions. They also spent part of their days in the classroom learning life skills, employ-ability skills and receiving employment assistance.
Many Central Floridians are caught in a downward spiral of unemployment, low self-esteem and poverty. But studies show job training and placement can break this cycle. By empowering individuals through job and life skills training, the Culinary Training program is helping the disadvantaged regain their self-worth and reconnect with their community through workforce readiness.
“The goal of the program is to change lives in our community by empowering adults with the education and skills to overcome the barriers that kept them from being successful in the past,” said Nancy Brumbaugh, Food Service Director of Second Harvest Food Bank. “I’m very proud of this graduating class. The students came to us with very little cooking experience, and after a few short weeks of training, they’re holding their own during internships with top-notch companies like Eurest at Siemens Orlando and David Ramirez Chocolates.”
Culinary Training students are recruited from the Food Bank’s partner agencies, and other nonprofit organizations that help people who are seeking a brighter future. The free, year-round 14-week program will train around a dozen students in each session. Second Harvest’s support doesn’t end with students’ graduation – our staff continues to assist students with job placement and adjustment to the workforce.
Dave Krepcho, President/CEO of Second Harvest said, “Because of their hard work, dedication to the learning, and can-do attitudes, these students have begun to forge their individual paths to success; many of them already have jobs lined up and waiting for them. Their futures are certainly bright.”
GuivingImed (Alely) Ramirez