The Chester County Food Bank provides food and nutrition education to its residents who are at-risk or experiencing food insecurity in Chester County. Distributing food to hungry people meets a persistent need, however, a lasting result to ending food insecurity in our community stems from achieving true economic self-sufficiency. Chester County Food Bank launched FRESHstart KitchenTM to educate and prepare low-income residents for opportunities and sustainable employment in the food service industry. FRESH is an acronym for Focusing Resources on Employment, Self-Sufficiency and Health, directly aligned with strategic planning and programming for the Food Bank.
Located in Exton, FRESHstart KitchenTM is located within the headquartered offices of the Chester County Food Bank. With a fully certified production kitchen and a uniquely qualified staff, the program began its inaugural class on September 10, 2018.
Specifically designed to assist individuals with limited work experience, modest academic skills and significant personal challenges – including substance abuse and criminal records, the program adeptly named will provide life skills to help address distinctive and significant challenges entering or reentering the workforce. Many of the program’s anticipated students may have limited organization skills, undeveloped problem-solving skills and an untapped ability to work in concert with others. FRESHstart KitchenTM recognizes that the food service industry is unique in its ability to provide opportunity for rapid advancement to those with minimal work histories and limited formal education – providing they obtain proper training and develop strong teamwork capacities.
FRESHstart KitchenTM will instruct enrolled participants to acquire a specific skill set with a 14-week culinary arts training program. With an anticipated three graduating cohorts per year, each class will be opened to up to ten students, for a total 30 students annually. The program operates eight hours per day, Monday through Friday, and provides the following instruction and supports:
- Culinary Arts Instruction & Training
- Life Skills & Job Readiness
- Internship, Job Search and Placement Assistance.