Kitchens For Good at the Jacobs Center Launches Its Culinary & Hospitality Workforce Training Program

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What does a new opportunity taste like? Maybe it’s a succulent rosemary chicken? Or is it a colorful salad with fresh fruits and vegetables? For the students in Project Launch, opportunity and a second chance taste like both of these dishes and a whole lot more.

IMG_0818Project Launch is a 13-week hands-on training program in culinary arts, hospitality, and soft skills offered by our on-site catering and events partner Kitchens for Good. Its students are adults who have experienced barriers to employment, including incarceration, domestic violence, substance abuse, and aging out of the foster care system. The first session began on January 19 with 11 students who were selected through a competitive application process.

Students attend classes Monday through Friday at the Joe & Vi Jacobs Center. They work with Chef Ivan Flowers on culinary training, food waste, and hunger relief. Additionally, students work with career coach Katrina Meredith for two hours a day to learn soft skills for the workplace, such as punctuality, resume writing, and communicating effectively with a manager.

IMG_0806Each week, students see demonstrations from guest lecturers and participate in hands-on courses that focus on different skills needed to successfully manage a kitchen and create great food. Whether they are learning about the basics of kitchen hygiene and knife skills; spices, seasonings, and nutrition; or station management and inventory control, Project Launch’s students are receiving a well-rounded education and will be ready to enter careers in our region’s booming culinary and hospitality industries upon graduation.

Part of the students’ time is dedicated to preparing meals using surplus and cosmetically imperfect food for the homeless, homebound seniors, and after-school programs through a partnership with Heaven’s Windows. This allows students to have a direct impact in their community and understand that a nutritious, great-tasting meal is a luxury that not everyone has.

Starting in week seven, students will intern at one of Kitchens for Good’s employer partners every Tuesday. This provides students with on-the-job training and an opportunity to put to use the skills they have learned through Project Launch to aide in the success of local restaurants and hotels. Employer partners include Bracero, Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, Marriott Coronado, and the Sweetwater Union High School District.

Photo Jan 28, 1 29 05 PMUpon graduation, each student will receive an industry certificate, and Kitchens for Good will assist them in job placement for up to one year. A graduation ceremony is planned for April, and the community will be invited to share in the students’ success. In the coming weeks, you’ll meet two of Project Launch’s students and learn how the program is having a direct impact on their lives and helping them realize their dream jobs as well as introducing them to new favorite dishes they can cook for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Applications are now open for the second session of Project Launch. If you are at least 18 years old, unemployed or underemployed, and interested in pursuing a career in the culinary industry, Kitchens for Good wants you! Classes start April 20. Learn more about the program, eligibility requirements, and how to apply here.