The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware is providing Anitra Hughes with employment opportunities that exceeded her expectations.
This Seaford resident went to the state Social Services office to apply for food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Her social worker asked if she were interested in a workforce training opportunity through Delaware Wonder, a federal grant program, in which the Food Bank of Delaware is a partner. This U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program is designed to prepare people for a career path.
At the time, Anitra was unemployed and decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I like to cook, but I’ve learned a lot here already, like how to make things from scratch,” she said. “I’ve learned how to make the mother sauces, how to cut properly, and safety, which cleaning products not to use.”
Anitra has been working the salad bar and fryer stations at Murphy’s Sports Bar at Harrington Raceway & Casino.
“I love it,” she said.
In addition to earning a paycheck, Anitra has set goals. “I might want to do more school. I think I’d like to own a restaurant or do catering,” she said.
Under the direction of the Food Bank’s Executive Chef Tim Hunter and Chef Instructors Tish Badamshin in Milford and Donnie Stephens in Newark students are introduced to a commercial kitchen, learn culinary mathematics, basic cooking techniques, presentation and baking skills, knife handling basics, ServSafe® food safety skills and more.
Anitra says she has also enjoyed the opportunities the training provides outside the classroom.
“I’ve gone to events, to the conference (Coming Together: A Community Response to Hunger), to the food show. I’ve never been to a food show, and I got to try new stuff, outside the box,” she said.
The 14-week program includes 12 weeks (day-time hours) of hands-on training in basic and high-end kitchen skills, safe food handling and life skills. The 12-week training culminates with a two-week paid internship at a food service company, restaurant or catering company. The school is a certified trade school by the Delaware Department of Education.
Students are referred to the program through the Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Delaware Health and Social Services and other community-based organizations.
The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability
The next class of The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware in Newark begins Monday, June 5. For more information or to apply, please click here.