One of the best days at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is when a class of our Culinary Job Training Program students graduates. After 11 weeks of learning food, job, and life skills, the grads can look back at the last 3 months and take in everything they’ve accomplished. And they get to share that moment – and a delicious “final exam” luncheon – with friends, loved ones, and their new IFFS family.
Thania, Jeff, Jennifer, and Jasmin spent all week preparing the 69th Graduation feast: Caesar salad, sweet potato Waldorf salad, tomato and cucumb er salad, carved prime rib, herb roasted turkey, mushroom cranberry bread pudding, roasted vegetable lasagna, rolls, and pineapple upside down cake for dessert.
This graduation carried extra significance, since it fell during Hunger Action Month. Access to income is a root cause of hunger. The Culinary Job Training Program combats hunger by supplying adults with the ability to be self-sufficient and earn a living wage in the culinary field.
After every guest and graduate emptied their plate and filled their stomach, IFFS’ Chef Terri Hutter presented her students with their Certificates of Completion.
First up was Jasmin, who landed a job in the culinary business about half-way through the CJTP term. Working nights at Tripps Restaurant on Wade Avenue in Raleigh, she sometimes wouldn’t get off work until 2 a.m. But she came to class every morning – no matter how many (or how few) hours of sleep she had the night before.
“This program is one of the greatest programs I've ever been in,” said Jasmin. “There's so much love in this building. I’ve learned so much and could not be here without what I’ve learned at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.”
Then there was Jennifer. “Definitely the cheerleader of the group,” said Chef Terri Hutter, who leads the program. “Very outgoing, and full of questions!”
“I want to say thank you for the learning experience,” said Jennifer. “I came out very knowledgeable. It is wonderful for us.”
Next up was Jeff, who faced the longest daily commute: Wake Forest to Raleigh using public transportation. He spent 3 hours each way to get to class—walking, riding, and waiting for the bus
Add that to a full day of learning, and some might find it difficult to make time for studying and completing the CJTP homework. But on graduation day, Jeff was awarded the Sameer Ishwar Murarka Memorial Foundation Award in recognition of highest ServSafe® Grade Point Average.
His dedication also earned him a paid IFFS Culinary Internship, where he will continue to grow his skills in the kitchen assisting IFFS Production Manager Sunshine Beard (a former CJTP grad).
“It’s been a long way but it was worth it,” said Jeff, holding his 15-month-old son. “I’m going to keep working and hope that it pays off. I do it for my kids, to be an example for them that you can do whatever you put your mind to.”
“Thank you, and God Bless to all those who donate to this program,” said Thania.
If you would like to help more adults reach self-sufficiency through living-wage employment, click here to make a donation to IFFS’ Culinary Job Training Program.
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By Lindsay Humbert, IFFS Digital Media Specialist. Contact: Lindsay@FoodShuttle.org