Cheers and tears fill Delaware Food Works graduation

June 30, 2021

The accomplishments of 16 students were celebrated this morning in a moving graduation celebration of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Delaware Food Works workforce training program.

Since March, students have been learning the ins and outs of the culinary and warehousing/logistics industries. Despite challenges, the students all persevered to successfully complete the training programs.

“These students are ready for the world,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Cathy Kanefsky. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, you persevered. You had to do things in a way that we didn’t have to do before. The world turned upside down… You did it anyway.”

Under the instruction of Chef Tim Hunter, the culinary students spent time at home and in the Food Bank kitchen learning the ins and outs of the culinary field. Soups, stocks, mother sauces, knife skills and more made up the curriculum of this 14-week program.

“This program is more than about food, it’s about life,” said Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Tim Hunter. “The stories that these guys shared, the obstacles they encountered, I am just so proud of the work they put in to get to today.”

L.O.G.I.C. (Logistics, Operations, General Warehousing and Inventory Control) students trained in the warehouse of the Food Bank of Delaware in Newark with Operations Instructor Joe Cunha and learned to use major equipment like end riders, lift trucks, order pickers and pallet jacks. They also had the opportunity to become OSHA-10 and forklift certified. Workforce Program Manager Lisa Grinnage, Education Coordinator Alice Samuel and Workforce Program Coordinator Diana McDaniel provided life skills training and extra support for the students from both classes.

“What they’ve accomplished is a big deal. They came to us looking for help, looking for a way to improve their life. They did everything to get here today,” said Operations Instructor Joe Cunha.

Chef Ross Essner, Executive Chef of the Columbus Inn, provided keynote remarks for the ceremony. He has also hired two of the culinary graduates.

“You will find much success if you stick with it,” advised Essner. “Success is waiting for all of you. It’s all about going after it. If you stick with it and you find what feels right, success will be there.”

Grateful for the opportunity to attend the training program, each graduate had the opportunity to speak upon accepting his/her certificate of completion. Emotion filled the room as the graduates talked about overcoming obstacles, finding their passion and following their dreams.

“I had challenges when I went through the program,” said L.O.G.I.C. graduate Curtis Bridges. “I was previously incarcerated and in work release, so I found the program while there. The Food Bank welcomed me with open arms. Joe and Miss Lisa really looked out for me. I am really proud of myself for completing the program.”

The L.O.G.I.C. graduates are:

  • Annie Brena
  • Curtis Bridges
  • Lamar Dozier
  • Corey Jackson
  • Todor Stoilov

“This program has been beneficial to me,” said culinary graduate Asia Church. “I am very grateful and humble to be a part of the program. I didn’t have to pay a dime out of my pocket to be here. Cooking is something that I absolutely love. It’s not about those long hours in the hot kitchen, it’s really about putting a smile on my customer, my family, my friends, my loved ones. That smile, that feeling that you give them, they feel good when they eat good food. People eat with their eyes. It gives me joy when people say that was so good. That’s what matters to me. This is simply what I love to do.”

The Culinary graduates are:

  • Phyllis Brown
  • Asia Church
  • Deborah Crosby
  • Vincenzo DeGregory
  • Leroy Dixon
  • Gwendolyn “Gigi” England
  • Maria Hervert
  • Quintaj Judon
  • Walter Stickles
  • David Woodside
  • Aaliyah Wright

The next culinary and warehousing/logistics training classes begins Aug. 16 . Visit www.fbd.org/delawarefoodworks to apply for the free daytime training program.

To learn more about The Culinary School, please contact Diana McDaniel at dmcdaniel@fbd.org (302) 292-1305 ext. 230  (New Castle County) or Michelle Cephas (Kent and Sussex Counties) at mcephas@fbd.org or (302) 424-3301 ext. 107.

Congratulations, graduates!

 

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