A new collaboration with Fostering Wellness has IFFS providing job readiness training to youth who are about to age out of the foster-care system.
The word “foster” is rooted in the Old English fōstor, meaning food, feeding. Our newest partnership is giving foster children a look at what a career in the culinary arts might look like. Utilizing our experience with Cooking Matters and Culinary Job Training, we are piloting a 10-week Culinary Readiness Program for nine eighteen-year-olds.
Fostering Wellness focuses on issues these foster children face in a holistic way—working with them on education, housing, employment, career development, and mental & physical health. Funded by GSK and Triangle Community Foundation, Fostering Wellness brings six partners together to create a network of support for these vulnerable youth: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Community Partnerships, The Hope Center at Pullen, LIFE Skills Foundation, United Way of the Greater Triangle, SaySo, and Dress for Success Triangle NC.
Various barriers mean other job-training programs are out of reach for these young adults. The Culinary Readiness Program provides them with child care, transportation, and other supports. “I have worked with this population for a long time, and I have never seen them so engaged and excited as they are with this program” says Stacy Bluth the Fostering Wellness Executive Director.
“The big picture is: how are we making them self-sufficient?” says Bluth. “Culinary training is beautiful because it provides them with a real-life skill that they do not currently have. It is engaging and active, just right for young adults.”
“Some of them may not end up working in food service,” says Chef Terri Hutter, “but how would they even know if they wanted to, without an opportunity to experience it? We are giving them transferable skills that they can use in other walks of life.”
Bluth notes that the program is “empowering them to think about how they might be a force for change—encouraging them to think about food insecurity and the fact that they are in a position to give back, not just be on the receiving end. That can be a transformative realization for a teenager.”
Interested in the Food Shuttle’s Culinary Job Training Program? Click here for more information.