Food Bank of Delaware celebrates first graduating class of new culinary training program for adults with disabilities
January 26, 2023
In partnership with the Delaware Restaurant Association and Delaware Department of Labor, the Food Bank of Delaware celebrated the graduation of the first cohort of The Kitchen School – a new program offering free specialized training designed to provide employment opportunities for adults with disabilities in the food service and hospitality industries.
The students have spent the past 12 weeks learning the ins and outs of the food service industry. They participated in six weeks of group instruction and individualized training in the Food Bank’s Newark industrial kitchen. An additional six weeks were spent transitioning to permanent employment through on-site job coaching.
The graduates are:
- Matthew Beers
- Andrew Davis
- Carlos Vasquez
- Jayden Warren
- Belloh Wulah
“You guys make my heart soar,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Cathy Kanfesky. “Everyone deserves a chance for success, and this program provides a path forward for a population that wants to work, is excited to work and can be a contributor to the workforce in a big way.”
“The restaurant industry empowers people from all backgrounds and differing abilities and has the ability to change lives, while uplifting communities,” said Delaware Restaurant Association Executive Director Carrie Leishman. “This partnership is exciting and groundbreaking and will help secure a better future for so many Delawareans through training and the vast opportunities that come from restaurants.”
The Food Bank’s professional chef instructors and job coaches:
- Train students to enter food-service workplaces
- Teach students kitchen safety
- Provide hands-on cooking skills training
- Teach sanitation procedures
- Provide students an opportunity to earn a ServSafe® Food Handler Certification.
Staff also provide instruction in soft skills and employer expectations using national industry-based guidelines and curriculum. Students receive support and develop an individualized plan needed to enter a workplace, including transportation options.
The Food Bank of Delaware’s Kitchen Steward, Sam Kanefsky, had an opportunity to congratulate the students. Sam has autism and has been making a difference in local kitchens for more than 11 years. He advised the students, “If you work hard and greet everyone with a smile, you will do great.”
Each graduate had a chance to address the audience. Matthew Beers said, “I am glad to be here. I met new friends.” Jayden Warren said the class was “the best thing ever.”
Kitchen School staff assist students in finding partner employers whose needs match student strengths and help the transition into a permanent workplace. All of the students are currently working or actively interviewing.
Additionally, Kitchen School staff provide support to students and employers for at least one year after graduation.
Thanks to a generous start-up grant from the Delaware Department of Labor as part of their TRAIN (Today’s Reinvestment Around Industry Needs) program, there is no cost to students to attend the program. The next cohort begins in February. To learn more, visit www.fbd.org/thekitchenschool.
Congratulations to our graduates!