Food Bank of Delaware celebrates latest Kitchen School graduates

May 2, 2024

It’s graduation season! Today was a day of celebration at the Food Bank of Delaware in Newark. Graduation ceremonies for students who have completed our 12-week featured all the pomp and circumstances associated with a significant occasion: certificates, speeches, applause, a few tears of joy – and lunch.

The graduates are: Shaun Cottrill, Lucas Divis, Chianta Erwin, Miles Jackson, Keith Kilmon, Emily Loughery, Benjamin Moulder, Tenneil Parkes, Dominque Powell and Andrew Springer.

The Kitchen School – offered at both the Food Bank’s Newark and Milford sites – is a free 12-week food service training program designed for adults with disabilities. The Kitchen School is a partnership between the Delaware Restaurant Association and the Food Bank in collaboration with instructors and counselors specializing in work with individuals with disabilities.

Under the instruction of Chef Rob Taylor, students spent eight weeks at the Food Bank kitchen learning kitchen safety and sanitation and cooking skills; after that, an additional four weeks was spent transitioning to permanent employment through on-site job coaching.

Food Bank President and CEO Cathy Kanefsky praised the students for their accomplishments. “You guys give us such hope. It’s been so amazing to watch you in the kitchen. I often say I don’t have bad days, but I can call days hard. And sometimes we have a hard day, but we will get up from our chairs and walk into the kitchen and see you in action, takes all of that away.”

Elisha Jenkins, Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, provided keynote remarks for the occasion. “You have chosen a career for yourself with security and growth and you’ll be able to take those skills learned at The Kitchen School and make your mark on the world,” she said.

Some of the students also spoke proudly of their achievements. Graduate Shaun Cottrill said, “I’m really happy, meeting new friends, that’s the best. Of course, cooking and learning, too. I have enjoyed being here.”

Andrew Springer quoted Chef Jose Andres, “Food is memories. I am so glad that we got to make these memories and meet new friends, enjoy food together and learn new skills.”

Chef Instructor Rob Taylor praised his new protégés. “Andrew summed it up perfectly. Food is memories. We all think back on times of our life and food brought family together, it brought this class together. This group is the most enthusiastic, willing students anybody could ever ask for.”

Kitchen School staff assists students in finding partner employers, and students and employers receive support for at least one year after graduation. Many of these new graduates are already working. Some employers include Winterthur and Gilpin Hall.

The next Kitchen School class in Newark will begin in September. To learn more, visit

Congratulations to our graduates!

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