Nothing brings people together like food and celebration.
That held true as dozens of guests joined IFFS staff to celebrate the 67th Culinary Job Training graduation last Friday afternoon. The mood was joyful as eight new graduates marked the end of an 11 week journey surrounded by friends, family, and food.
“I’m in a transitional stage of my life right now and Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is right there with me,” said graduate William Weldon. “They made me believe in myself. I believed in myself before, but I believe in myself even more now because of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.”
Brian Bunn, Richard Carter, David Fullard, Truvialial Kearney, Pebbles Moody, William Weldon, Kevin Smith, and Christopher Wills passed skills tests and ServSafe exams. But there was one final assessment: preparing a graduation feast.
Guests filled their plates and their stomachs with platefuls of Kale Salad, Waldorf Salad, Pasta Salad, Roasted Potatoes, Sautéed Yellow Squash, Green Beans, Chicken Pot Pie, Beef Brisket and more. Then, waiting at the end was a dessert of Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
Needless to say the class passed with flying colors!
The CJTP course is full of different challenges, as students learn new skills in the kitchen, and in life. But these proud graduates studied new terminology, practiced hard with new techniques, and found the determination to get up every day and travel to class, whether by car, by bus, or by foot, and through all kinds of weather.
“It came to a point where I almost didn’t finish this class, but Miss Sharon Mitchell [IFFS social worker] had my back,” said Kearney. “I just thank this whole group of people for being the people that they are, and I am so happy to know that I became a part of this program right here.”
Course instructors and guests spoke of how proud they were of each individual student, but also of the group as a whole. Completing the CJTP program is no small feat, and graduation is certainly a moment to savor. The graduates also each took a moment to reflect on the past three months and to thank their support systems for helping them through the journey.
“I’d like to give thanks for the opportunity to be here, which comes from Miss Jill. If it wasn’t for you this place would not be established and we wouldn’t be standing here today,” said Smith, who also earned earned our second award given for the highest GPA in ServSafe certification (the Sameer Ishwar Murarka Memorial Foundation Award in memory of a Sodexo food service employee). “The staff of this job training program is a great staff. The opportunity to connect with people, to meet people, and start a new beginning is not something you come across every day. I’m most gracious for the chance to do so.”
With 2015 just around the corner, what a perfect time for these graduates to begin a new chapter of their lives.
“This class has been a rollercoaster,” said Wills. “It’s been mind changing. I’m ready for my career to start.”
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 Lindsay Humbert, IFFS Digital Media Specialist. Contact: Lindsay@FoodShuttle.org