Community leaders, including Feeding America President and CEO Vicki Escarra, celebrated the accomplishments of nine students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware at a graduation ceremony held at our Newark facility this morning. In addition to the graduation, Lt. Governor Matt Denn, announced that we are the recipient of funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program through the Criminal Justice Council.
The three-year grant, totaling $205,470, will allow the Food Bank to provide 42 individuals, who are reentering society from the Delaware Department of Corrections, with the opportunity to learn vital skills in the culinary field enabling them to gain employment in Delaware’s food service job market.
“This ceremony is about celebrating the nine who graduated today and those who will benefit from this program over the next three years,” said Lt. Governor Matt Denn, chair of the Criminal Justice Council, which executed the grants. “Giving inmates skills that help them become productive members of society upon release is something I have been focused on since I took office. This grant will help grow a program that already has a wonderful success rate and will continue to reduce the recidivism rate in Delaware.”
Under the instruction of our Chef Instructor Mark Saunders, students have spent the past 14 weeks developing their skills in the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to sautéing and braising, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the culinary arts. A significant portion of their training included preparation of several large catering jobs for the food bank and other outside customers. In addition to culinary skills, the students also spent time developing skills in conflict resolution, anger management, interviewing, resume writing and more.
“What is truly remarkable about the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School is the opportunity it provides students, not just for skills training, but for intense personal growth,” said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America. “It has given the graduates a chance to work hard, change their lives and build a better future for themselves and their families.”
“I am extremely proud of all of our graduates,” said our President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “Since our program’s inception in 2002, The Culinary School has played an important role in preparing individuals for jobs in Delaware’s growing food and restaurant industry. With the additional funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, we will be able to train an at-risk demographic in our state in order to decrease their likelihood of re-offending.”
Following the graduation ceremony, students showed off their newly-developed skills and prepared an “Autumn Harvest” lunch for all. Guests enjoyed pepper jack macaroni and cheese, butternut squash supreme, Texas barbeque beef sliders, seafood pot pie, homemade sweet potato cheesecake, old-fashioned apple pie and more.
The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.
Students are referred to the program through the Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Corrections and other community-based organizations. For more information about The Culinary School, please contact, Culinary Program Manager Rick Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out some photos from today’s graduation ceremony!