Kitchen School grads inspire family, friends, teachers

November 29, 2023

Today was a day of celebration at the Food Bank of Delaware in Newark. Graduation ceremonies for students who have completed The Kitchen School featured all the pomp and circumstances associated with a significant occasion: certificates, speeches, applause, a few tears of joy – and lunch.

The graduates are: Raymond Aborn, Kirub Alemeshet, Nazim Bailey, Ryan Beckman, Jabree Brown, Olivia Brown, Christion Dark, Sondrea Dawkins, Sy’raiah Evans, Vangeli Galindo-Smith, Nicole Heller, Nicole Jones, Samuel Kitts, Matthew Lombardi, Lluvia Mendoza, Aliza Pidgeon, Kareem Turner, Moises Valle Jr. and Victoria Wilson

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 Chefs Ron Roll and Shalisa Alexander, 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. “We are so proud of you. The world is ready for you,” she said. She also praised staff who support the program. “It takes a village.”

Hank Rosenberg, Chief Operating Officer for Hospitality and Harrington Raceway and Casino, provided keynote remarks. “As a community, we have responsibilities. Just as our community has responsibilities to feed those who cannot get food on their own… we as a community, have responsibility to give people jobs, especially those who want to work.”

Some of the students also spoke proudly of their achievements. Graduate Moises Valle said, “I enjoyed the program a lot because it gave me a chance to learn things. I just believe that this place helped me succeed for, honestly, the first time in my life.”

Chef Instructor Shalisa Alexander praised her new protégés. “I can’t be prouder and more amazed. I know what they are capable of. The possibilities are endless,” she noted.

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 in local restaurants. Some employers include Grotto Pizza, Waggies by Maggie, Aramark at the University of Delaware, Cheddar’s and more.

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

Congratulations to our graduates!


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