Eleven students of The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware celebrated their achievements yesterday during a graduation ceremony for the 22nd and 23rd class at the Food Bank’s Milford site.
The graduates were: Felix Burgos, Terrance Fletcher, Hope Garner, Terron Handy, LasheataHarmon, Ivana Nock, Penny Porter, Msaon Shulties, Deshawn Simmons, GeraldineWhite and Lakesha Williams.
State Sen. Ernie Lopez, who serves the Lewes, Milton and Harbeson areas and is a long-time friend of the Food Bank of Delaware, was guest speaker for the event.
State Sen. Ernie Lopez praised the graduates on their success.
“I’m admirer of these amazing students here. I’m thankful for your dedication and your drive,” he said.
He quoted the Beatles, saying “It’s getting better all the time.”, and added “You are steering your inner drive to arrive at your more authentic self. Everybody deserves a second chance.”
The senator also remarked on the importance of their professional choice: food service.
“Feeding people, clothing people, housing people. . . are bipartisan issues. They are human issues, and you are a type of servant leaders. Feeding people brings people together,” he said. “The life skills you take from this place brings dignity to those who are suffering.”
Patricia Beebe, the Food Bank of Delaware’s President and CEO; Tim Hunter, The Culinary School’s Executive Chef; Tish Badamshin, Chef Instructor, and Ruthann Messick, Workforce Training Program Manager, each offered remarks as well..
The new graduates expressed gratitude for the opportunities they received during the 14-week program in which they developed their skills and passion for the culinary arts.
“This program changed my attitude, the way I think, and my actions,” said Terrance Fletcher. He will be working full-time at Dover Downs.
From proper knife handling techniques to Serve Safe certification and completing a two-week internship, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.
Some of the students tuition was funded through Delaware WONDER, a federal grant geared to getting people into the workplace and off SNAP benefits. These students are the final class of the pilot program.
After the ceremony, graduates served guests a lunch buffet that they prepared. Guests enjoyed jambalaya, eggplant soup, pork roast, macaroni and cheese, fried fish, assorted desserts and more.
Internship and job opportunities for students include Dover Downs, Delaware Veterans Home, Lupo Italian Kitchen, KFC, Aramark at Delaware State University and Harrington Raceway and Casino.
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, Delaware Health and Social Services and other community-based organizations.
The next Culinary School class starts on Jan. 14, 2019. Click here for information on how to enroll.