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Community Kitchen Academy is a Vermont Foodbank culinary job training program operated at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. Nationwide, there are currently more than 20 Community Kitchen programs in operation. The job retention rate for Community Kitchen graduates is 58% over six months; and in 2006, students served approximately 4.7 million meals. This program follows a replicable model, and is set up for success.
Each 14-week session of Community Kitchen Academy contains 10-12 students. To prepare these students with the culinary skills necessary to secure jobs in the food service industry, the professional Chef Instructor delivers a proven curriculum that was developed by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Students learn about safe kitchen practices—including safe knife handling, preventing cuts, burns, and handling accidents and fires, and managing food allergies—and a variety of skills such as knife sharpening, knife and equipment identification, food safety practices, various cooking methods, food receiving and storage, and the preparation of nutritious recipes and appropriate portion sizes. Students will also undergo ServSafe training—a nationally recognized certification program essential to safety in food production and storage. In addition to ServSafe certification, Community Kitchen Academy is an accredited program that allows students to earn nine college-level credits upon completion. The combination of this specialized culinary skills training and the work readiness training provided through the integrated life skills program ensure that upon graduation, students will be certified professionals who are ready and qualified to gain employment in the food service industry.
In addition to job training, Community Kitchen Academy performs another function, rescuing produce, meat and other foods that would otherwise be wasted from restaurants, farms and food service companies. Students work with instructors to cook the food and produce meals that are then cryovac sealed and sent out through the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf Soup Kitchen and Food Shelf.