Summer program offers learning opportunities for students and staff alike

August 17, 2022

At the Food Bank of Delaware, graduations are always a time for celebration, but today’s Summer Culinary Exploratory Celebration at our Milford branch was a jump-for-joy occasion. Literally! The program marked the culmination of a four-week program with graduation certificates as well as a luncheon for family members and job coaches.

The graduates were: Matthew Bryson, Luis Gonzales, Felipe Hernandez, Daraliz Malabet, Natalie Rodriguez, Tatianna Turner, Kyaire Woodard-Greene, and David Zimmerman.

This program serves students, ages 16 – 21 who wants to learn more about the culinary arts and the food service industry. Students learned kitchen safety, knife identification, and sanitation methods. They enjoyed hands-on cooking experiences like making biscuits, soft pretzels, homemade tomato sauce, met guest chefs, participated in course-related field trips, and earned a ServSafe® Food Handler Certificate.

“It takes a village. This class is changing lives,” said Food Bank President and CEO Cathy Kanefsky, who spoke not only as the agency’s leader, but also as the mother of 31-year-old twin sons, young men with autism. “These students now know how to do things, and it may be the start of a career,” she said. “I’m speaking to you as a mom. I know how it is to think there is nothing for them. We have opportunities, everything from volunteering to staffing. It takes extra support and job coaches. You’ve got a whole family here.”

Chef Tish Badamshin, chef instructor, told students and guests this summer class was “the highlight in my job.” She praised the students for preparing parts of the day’s luncheon,  and also for the lessons they taught her. “It was a joy to come to class every day. I learned a lot about patience and understanding. It is a joy, and I love it.”

Chef Tim Hunter, the Food Bank’s executive chef, teaches the Newark-based program. “This started here six years ago. This is the highlight of my day. They can do it. I learn so much from them every day,” he said.

“The students worked very hard and were determined,” said Michelle Cephas, Workforce Program Coordinator.

Today’s guests were treated to a lunch prepared by the graduates – they had the chance to choose from a crispy chicken salad, pepperoni pizza pretzel or macaroni and cheese! Some students served as the wait staff, while others plated the dishes – giving the class one last hands-on activity! After serving their families, they sat down to enjoy lunch.

Lunch was delicious, and the result of the students’ hard work and enthusiasm!

The Food Bank will launch a new 14-week program, The Kitchen School, in October at the Newark headquarters in partnership with the Delaware Restaurant Association. The program will start in Milford in the spring, focusing on training adults with intellectual disabilities for employment in the food service industry.

The exploration program is made possible through the Delaware Department of Vocational Rehabilitation’s Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS).

Visit www.fbd.org to learn more about Food Bank of Delaware programs.

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