Kitchen School alumni thriving at ShopRite
July 18, 2023
Jonathan and Janelle graduated from the Food Bank of Delaware’s Kitchen School in May and both are thrilled about their new jobs at the Brandywine Commons ShopRite in Wilmington.
The Kitchen School – offered at both our Newark and Milford sites – is a free 12-week food service training program designed for adults with disabilities.
For these graduates, working at ShopRite is more than a job, it’s a way they can meaningfully contribute, earn a paycheck and be independent.
Jonathan says, “I love the work. I’m ready to work.”
He works Monday-Friday in the produce department and helps with a variety of tasks. From stocking fresh produce to checking dates, he is a dependable employee who gets the job done.
“We believe there are so many benefits to hiring people with disabilities,” says ShopRite Director of Sales and Marketing Ben Simons. “These individuals often bring us unique perspectives and skills to our business and help us take that extra step in improving our relationships with customers and our community. Kenny Family ShopRites encourages a diverse and inclusive workplace and hiring those with disabilities has proven to impact our organization positively. Our team not only welcomes the help, but also loves the team spirit that they bring to the table, improving employee morale overall.”
Jonathan’s supervisor, Tina, and Food Bank of Delaware Specialized Training Associate, Antoine Brumble, provide Jonathan with guidance as he is provided one task at a time to complete.
As a job coach, Antoine is on site each day to check on the students and provide additional direction. “I spend most of my time with Jonathan, but my goal is to eventually fade out,” he explains. Once Jonathan is comfortable and has adapted to the day-to-day routine, Antoine will spend less time on site.
“It’s important that they recognize this is their job and they have their own indepedence,” Antoine explains. “They are part of society and they are not secluded.”
As he was checking dates on the salad dressing bottles, a customer came up to Jonathan with a question. Without hesitation, he pointed the customer in the right direction.
“Jonathan is doing awesome,” notes Antoine.
Jonathan’s classmate, Janelle, is working independently in the bakery and “loves everything,” and she says it with a big smile. In the bakery, Janelle helps bag baked goods like bagels and cookies and sorts and labels items.
“She loves coming to work,” says Antoine.
Antoine has been working as a job coach for eight years and joined the Food Bank in November 2022. He was inspired to go into this line of work due to his own learning challenges. “If I can do it, you can push, too,” he says.
Jonathan and Janelle are both in their thirties and the job at ShopRite is their first. Thanks to the vocational training they received at The Kitchen School, hands-on coaching in the workplace from Antoine and a supportive employer, the duo is thriving.
The next Newark Kitchen School class begins on September 5. To learn more, visit www.fbd.org/thekitchenschool.