Culinary training program provides skills and community benefits

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:43 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Culinary students are helping Feeding Chittenden and the Vermont Food Bank prepare free meals for people in need.

Give a person food, they eat for a day. Teach a person to cook, they’ll have skills for a lifetime. That’s the philosophy behind Feeding Chittenden’s Community Kitchen Academy. It gives unemployed and underemployed Vermonters a chance to find a career they’re passionate about.

“I always wanted to find a school that would teach culinary skills,” said Raven Antonio, an academy trainee. She said other training programs she looked at were too expensive or closed during the pandemic. “This program would actually get you all those skills without paying anything and with helping other people, so why, how could you say no to that?”

The program is supported by local grants from the Vermont Food Bank, Vermont Department of Labor, and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, along with some fundraising.

“We don’t expect anybody to pay for the program at all,” said James Logan, an instructor at the academy.

The food is also free and supplied through the foodshelf and Vermont Food Bank. In the end, the students get to experience while nourishing their communities.

“It’s instrumental to everybody that’s homeless as well as anybody that’s low income,” said Marvin Woods, a Burlington resident.

“For it to be free out here in the Old North End -- it’s essential,” said Jasmina Jusufagic, a local resident.

Another benefit of the program is that it trains people to work in local businesses and officials say it has a 91% job placement success rate.”Call this place and they’re hiring. There’s a lot of need for line cooks today, right now. Restaurants, businesses are hiring, so it’s a good opportunity,” Raven said.

A new class is expected to begin in August.

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