The kitchen at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank bustles with action every afternoon, when students from their Community Kitchen class move from the classroom to the cutting board. Their mission: prepare more than 400 meals every day for children served by the Food Bank's Kids Cafe program, which serves hot evening meals to children in afterschool programs and recreation centers.
Community Kitchen is a 14-week culinary job training program for low income and unemployed adults. Participants receive training in basic food preparation skills and food safety, as well as work and life skills like interviewing, resume writing, conflict resolution and time management. Taught by two highly experienced chef instructors and a life skills instructor, students receive on-the-job training at a variety of work sites, and 92% of the graduates go on to find employment in the hospitality industry in less than a year. Many describe it as a life-changing experience.
In the words of one Community Kitchen student, "How has my life changed? A 180, a total turnaround. I feel like I've got a chance at life now. When I came here, I didn't have any hope. I felt like I was on a sinking ship and it was going down. Chef Heather is an amazing teacher. They do a great job teaching life skills. These teachers put in the work with you. I feel like a changed man. If I wore glasses, I would say I have a new lens. I see the world as a different place."
For more information on the Food Bank's Community Kitchen program, visit www.rifoodbank.org/communitykitchen<http://www.rifoodbank.org/communitykitchen>.