Culinary School offers lifeline and opportunity to under-employed

March 10, 2020

Jane Robinson is a survivor. She’s felt frustration and defeat, yet she’s persevered, and now she’s on the road to a new career at our Delaware Food Work’s Culinary School in Milford.

The Clayton resident is a non-traditional student – like many of those who discover their passion in the kitchen at The Culinary School. She had worked in a nursing home for more than 20 years when she lost her CNA job. Although she eventually found part-time work as a dishwasher, it wasn’t a position that offered job satisfaction. Robinson believed she could do more.

After her daughter told her about a job fair in Wilmington, Robinson attended as part of  her ongoing search of a more fulfilling opportunity, and it was there she learned about the Food Bank’s program – a 14-week workforce development education that provides students with classroom and commercial kitchen training, plus a paid two-week paid work experience. The program is one piece of the Food Bank’s mission to provide long-term solutions to hunger and food insecurity through the Delaware Food Works workforce development initiative.

“I like to cook, and my interest was to learn more so I went online and applied,” Robinson said. She was pleased to get a call within a week from Workforce Training Program Manager Ruthann Messick, and she was enrolled in the class which started in January. She expects to graduate in April.

In the meantime, since Robinson was attending The Culinary School during the day, she met with her manager to negotiate her schedule to work on weekends in order to meet her living expenses.

“I am so happy in this class. I like to know how to do more things,” she said. She noted that she also appreciates the support she receives each day. “Chef Tish (Badamshin, chef instructor) and Ruthann really try to help us. They bring people in to help us too,” Robinson said.

Now she has some serious career goals. “In the future, I’d like to do catering or own my own restaurant,” she said. Her specialty? African food.

“This has been such a positive experience. I share it with my friends, and I encourage too. I was so lucky. I found something I was really wanting to do.”

Click here to learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware’s culinary programs with locations in Newark and Milford.

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