Our commercial kitchen, located within our warehouse, is the site of the Recipe for Success Culinary Job Training program. The goal of this course is to help individuals suffering financial hardship gain the skills and experience necessary to seek employment in the food service industry. We consider financial hardship as those whose combined household income is unable to sustain themselves and their family, and are unable to obtain a job at a living wage with the skills and experience they currently possess.
Participants are selected based on an application and a 15-minute interview. Our primary considerations are the financial need of the applicant for a short-term training opportunity; the sincerity of the applicant’s interest in the program and working in food service; and the perceived ability of the applicant to successfully complete the program.
Because we often receive applications from more eligible candidates than we can accept in each session, we also consider the group dynamics of participants for a given course, and try to select applicants from a variety of different circumstances, backgrounds, and aptitudes. We do not discriminate nor show preference based on race, gender, age, or other demographics, but we try to assemble a team with as broad array of personal experiences to train them on how to work together with a diverse group, and to learn from those with different outlooks, abilities, and backgrounds.
We instruct our trainees in a broad range of efficient kitchen practices and fundamentals, including identification of food and ingredients, use of kitchen implements, and equipment, measurements, nutrition, knife skills, preparation techniques, safe food handling, and cleaning and sanitization. By conducting catering events, they also gain experience with serving and meal presentation. Teamwork is also an important component of the training; participants learn how to work together, divide tasks among themselves, manage conflicts, and behave professionally. Additionally, we provide training on basic financial skills; resume writing, and interview techniques.
A typical day of training
While few days are exactly the same in this active, constantly – changing environment, the majority of the training time consists of hands-on experience in the kitchen preparing meals for the registered agencies of the Food Bank. This course provides at least 100 meals per day for the Manchester Boys & Girls Club, and produces meals in bulk to be frozen for use by our other registered agencies.
When not prepping and cooking food, trainees spend time learning safe food handling (as part of the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Program) and nutrition, performing catering events, or being instructed by guest chefs. And just as they would be expected to do at an employer’s kitchen, trainees have to clean and organize the workspaces.
At a minimum, trainees must complete 260 hours of training while adhering to program policies for attendance and behavior.
To be truly successful in this program, participants are required to do just that; participate! It takes more than meeting the minimum expectations in this program to be an attractive candidate to an employer in this job market. The more a trainee puts into this program, the more we can work with them to expand their abilities and develop their marketability for employment.
As this is a needs-based program, there is no charge for the training. Trainees who adhere to the program’s attendance and behavior policies receive a $50.00/week stipend during the last five weeks of the course.