It seems March is a big month for graduates around the Food Shuttle. Last week our Seed to Supper class graduated 13 newly-minted gardeners. Then, on Saint Patrick’s day, our Culinary Job Training Program graduated two fresh-out-of-the-box cooks: Fatma and Patrick. What a way to kick off spring!
Seventy-one times over the last 18 years, students have stepped up to the podium to receive their completion certificates … including their ServSafe certification. They have prepared their final exam—a feast to show off the skills acquired over 11 weeks of study. And they have celebrated their achievements with family, supporters, and the staff and Board of the Food Shuttle. As our Executive Director, Dave Koch says, “that’s a lot of ceremonies, and a lot of wonderful people!”
This session both of our graduates are looking to establish new careers after spending years in the workforce in other capacities. Graduation is the culmination of hours of classroom study as well as hands-on learning in our kitchen preparing meals for both Catering for a Cause, and for our children’s nutrition programs. Our Board Chair, Becky Jacobs, says it best--“I am inspired by the determination and perseverance of the graduates, I know that if you can get through this program there is truly nothing you can’t accomplish.”
Patrick has a background as a steel fabricator. He was foreman of a welding shop and also owned his own business. It is quite a leap from a welding mask to a chef’s toque, but one that he made successfully, as he earned the Sameer Ishwar Murarka Memorial Foundation Award in recognition of highest ServSafe® GPA.
Fatma was born in Algeria in North Africa, where she grew up and graduated from college. She now lives here with her husband and three children. She has a gift for baking and is excited about the wide array of employers who need the skills she now possesses. After thanking the crowd in 3 languages (French, Arabic & English), Fatma shared her pride by observing “I used to cook as a mom and a grandmother, but now I can cook as a chef!”
As we celebrated on a lovely spring day with a buffet of appetizers, salads, grilled chicken parmesan, spaghetti marinara, corned beef & cabbage, we will give thanks for the food, and we will give thanks that the Food Shuttle nurtures a culture of second chances. We believe that all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds or age, should have the chance to build meaningful lives Feeding bodies and souls, Teaching life lessons, and Growing as individuals and members of society.
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By Sally Bache, IFFS Administrative Services Manager. Contact: Sally@FoodShuttle.org