For students enrolled in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School, the training program provides the opportunity to learn new skills, gain professional credentials, and land a job in the field. For most, it is also about making a fresh start in life.
Victoria, a Felton resident, is no exception. She enrolled in the program at our Milford site in June, and she expects to graduate in September. The 14-week program includes 12 weeks of hands-on kitchen training and classroom education, plus a two week paid internship.
She was able to secure funding for her tuition through Delaware WONDER (Work Opportunity Networks to Develop Employment Readiness) through the Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Social Services which administers the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) statewide.
After being incarcerated for five years, Victoria said she is ready to make a successful re-entry into society. She gained a passion for cooking during that time, and also became aware of the Food Bank’s program.
Before serving her term, Victoria, a mother of three and now a grandmother, said she “was mostly a mom, but I had worked in restaurants.”
The Culinary School trains students in food preparation and food safety, and also locates an internship site that matches students’ interests and skill levels. That was part of the appeal for Victoria.
“This is a very felony-friendly field, and here you build a career, and not just a job,” she said.
She recalls reading a newspaper article while incarcerated about the late Matt Haley, founder of SoDel Concepts. Haley founded a highly acclaimed restaurants in the beach areas, including Fish On!, Matt’s Fish Camp, BlueCoast, and others. He, too, had been incarcerated, and upon release, worked hard to become a successful restaurateur.
“His story inspired a lot of us. When you’re incarcerated, it lets you know it can be done,” she said.
Victoria also urges others to look at the opportunity to train at the Food Bank’s Culinary School.
“People should know this place is here. The people here are amazing, and they provide an amazing support system. There is no judgment, no bias. If you want a place to start your life over, this is the place to do it,” she said.
For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School, click here. The next class session starts on Sept. 25.