As part of the graduation celebration of the 49th and 50th classes of The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, Barclays presented a check for $125,000 to help support the Food Bank’s culinary workforce development program. Funding will support student scholarships to The Culinary School, the Food Bank’s alumni-run food cart and the ManageFirst specialized food training program.
Students have spent the past 14 weeks developing their skills both in and outside the kitchen. From proper knife handling techniques to ServSafe® certification and completing a two-week internship, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry. Guest speakers and field trips have rounded out the formal training program.
Amer Sajed, Chairman of the Barclays Bank Delaware Board, provided keynote remarks.
“Barclays is proud to partner with the Food Bank on such a great initiative”, said Sajed. “I’m so inspired by these incredible young people and what they’ve been able to accomplish. As they move forward in their careers, they can apply the lessons they have learned through this program and will be able to accomplish anything.”
Graduates of the 49th and 50th culinary classes come from all walks of life and countries. Milagros Martínez Alonso moved to the United States from Puerto Rico in February, Romario Brown is from Jamaica, and Alberta Siamah is from Ghana. All three students are now prepared for careers in Delaware’s food service industry.
“When I came to America from Puerto Rico in February, I came with many dreams,” said Alonso. “This has been the most integral 14 weeks of my life.”
Executive Chef Tim Hunter commended the students for finishing the 14-week training program. “Are you better off today than you were when you started? If your answer is ‘yes,’ then you got what this class is all about – improving lives.”
Students’ tuition was funded through multiple sources including corporate scholarships from Barclays, Capital One, Chase and Comenity Bank, the Delaware Department of Labor, and Delaware WONDER (Work Opportunity Networks to Develop Employment Readiness), a federal grant geared to getting people into the workplace and off SNAP benefits. This employment and training program is led by Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Social Services (DHSS), which administers the SNAP Program in Delaware.
Students have landed employment at the Metro Diner, Christiana Care, Aramark, Panda Express and AstraZeneca.
Several students were honored with special awards. They are:
- Highest GPA: Nicholas Moore
- Most Dedicated: Romario Brown
- Most Improved: Alberta Williams Siamah
Williams Siamah admits that she was a “bad cook” when she first started at The Culinary School. “Before my husband would ask, ‘What is this?’ But now when I cook he says, ‘This is beautiful, what is it?,” she explained.
“The culinary field will offer you endless possibilities and I hope you reach for every opportunity to continue this journey,” said Food Bank of Delaware Board Chair Julie Miro Wenger. “You have been given many tools in the last 14 weeks and now it is up to you to use them to better yourself to push forward and strive to find your way.”
After the ceremony, graduates served guests a lunch buffet that included jerk chicken, beef brisket, shrimp kabobs, escovitch fish, sweet potato pie, cheesecake 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. To learn more about The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school.