66th Culinary Job Training Program Graduation!

There’s always a special light in our eyes and an extra kick in our step on Graduation Days.  The hallways buzz with activity from decorating to heavy-lifting as the Food Shuttle staff transform our warehouse into a dining hall for one of our favorite days of the year. It’s the day our Culinary Job Training students become GRADUATES, when 11 weeks of learning knife skills, struggling with life’s challenges, and persevering through the moments of fear and resignation, finally pay off. ShrimpScampi

Friday, Sept. 19,  Yolanda Crudup and Carolyn Williams reaped the rewards of their efforts. They received not only their certificates of completion and ServSafe certifications, but also the accolades of their family and friends who gathered to share in the students’ final test: a graduation feast. After filling themselves on broccoli-apple salad, shrimp and spinach pasta, roast beef, and other delicacies, the crowd “voted” unanimously with loud cheers of approval. We asked Carolyn and Yolanda to share what Culinary Job Training meant to them:

What are the most important things you learned?

Yolanda: “How to stay motivated, stay focused, and stay on track towards my goals. Also professional cleanliness and sanitation.”   (Yolanda earned our first award given for the highest GPA in ServSafe certification, The Sameer Ishwar Murarka Memorial Foundation Award in memory of a Sodexo food service employee.)

Carolyn:  “Adjusting my attitude from a 1 to a 10, how to smile and talk with people,  how to trust people, and how to cook in quantity and eat healthy.”

How will you use what you have learned?JillAndGrads

Yolanda:  “I want to own my own bakery.” Carolyn:  “I will work with the elderly, serving other people with my cooking skills.

Many thanks to our partners and supporters who make this program possible:

  • Community Workforce Solutions for student referrals and student preparation
  • Wake County Human Services for student referrals and workshops
  • Centerplate Catering for hosting field trips, donating chef jackets and hiring graduates
  • IFFS staff,  Chef Terri Hutter and social worker Sharon Mitchell for their compassionate and relentless coaching and teaching
  • Vocational Rehabilitation for job coaching and referrals
  • Jobs For Life for job coaching and referrals

And last but not least, the family and friends who encouraged, cajoled, prodded, and loved Yolanda and Carolyn towards their goals of self-sufficiency.

“Give a man a fish, you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

[box type="note" size="medium" border="full"]If you want to support the IFFS Culinary Job Training Program, donate here.[/box]

About the Culinary Job Training Program

There is no better illustration of “We feed. We teach.We grow.” than the Culinary Job Training Program (CJTP).  This program prepares adults with severe life challenges for careers in food service during an eleven-week hands-on course taught by Chef Terri Hutter and  social worker Sharon Mitchell.  Housed at our headquarters in Raleigh at the Vernon Malone Center (1001 Blair Drive), our commercial kitchen is the teaching hub for CJTP. We share the facility with Meals on Wheels as part of the Food Runners Collaborative, an efficient multi-use hunger-relief operation that makes every dollar go further.

Each week, food recovered from a variety of donors is delivered to CJTP by IFFS Food Recovery trucks. Students learn to cook and freeze this food into nutritious, well-balanced meals (up to 2000 meals per week!), which are then delivered to local soup kitchens and children’s programs. This helps these small non-profits use their limited funds for services rather than for food.

By Cindy Sink, IFFS Director of Marketing & Communications. Contact: Cindy@FoodShuttle.org