The Kitchen School: ‘A great program for people like me . . . ‘

July 25, 2023

For Cassie Dickey, the Food Bank of Delaware’s Kitchen School was so much more than an opportunity to learn basic culinary skills, and that’s not to diminish the value of learning her way around a commercial kitchen.

This 30-something Special Olympian – baseball, basketball, and soccer — arrived at The Kitchen School with some experience; she already enjoyed cooking with her mom.

Cassie, who graduated from the 12-week program, is employed three days a week prepping fresh vegetables for salads at Grain on the Rocks inside the Lewes-Cape May Ferry Terminal. It’s her first job, one she describes as “a dream come true.” The kitchen is bustling, hectic, and often chaotic; the restaurant seats 600 people indoors and as many as 1,500 when there’s an outdoor concert.

She’s very positive about her job and views the busy-ness as opportunity for advancement. “I love it. I like being in the kitchen and showing what I can do. The people I work with – they’re great.” And she has plans for the paychecks: “I’m saving up to buy a tiny home, ” she said.

Cassie praised Chef Instructor Shalisa Alexander for taking her skills to the next level. “She helped me get over my fears of the oven. I was always afraid of getting burned,” Cassie said. “And she taught me to do things the right way.”

In addition, Cassie said she made new friends through The Kitchen School – some of whom are now co-workers. “It was a really nice atmosphere,” she said. “It’s a great program for people like me, people with disabilities. We’re seeing what we can do.”

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. The Kitchen School represents a partnership between the Delaware Restaurant Association and the Food Bank in collaboration with teachers and counselors specializing in work with individuals with disabilities. Students spend  eight weeks at the Food Bank kitchen learning kitchen safety and sanitation and cooking skills; after that, an additional four weeks is spent transitioning to permanent employment through on-site job coaching.

Kitchen School staff assists students in finding partner employers, and students and employers receive support for at least one year after graduation. Most of these new graduates are already working in local restaurants.

The next Kitchen School class starts in September in Newark, and in February another class will start in Milford. Visit for more information about this program and others offered by the Food Bank of Delaware.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *