Recipe for success

Cornelia Hill said that she learned “to jump out there and not worry about it.” Brian Hinton said that this was “the first time I’ve finished something just for me and not gotten mixed up in other people’s business.” And they learned something about preparing food, too.

Hill and Hinton were two of the nine members of the latest graduating class from the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Culinary Job Training. Jill Staton-Bullard, CEO at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, said that the majority of people who enroll in the 11-week, full-time training class in Raleigh, N.C. have issues that have held them back in the past: drugs, prison, homelessness. Between the students’ pasts and just how tough the training is, fewer than half who start out usually finish. This class started with 16 members.

Besides extensive food preparation training, staff members offer job coaching and help simply with life issues. Graduates typically find jobs in such areas as schools or nursing home food service, and this class started looking for those jobs as soon as the hugs and tears were over on Wednesday. And there were plenty of tears on both sides, from the students and their families. The parents and children of students stood up and said how proud they were, and an impromptu gospel song rang out. Then, it was time for German Chocolate Cake.

The job market is tough right now, but the nine graduates have faced plenty of difficult situations. Ellawee Mobley, homeless and living at the Raleigh Rescue Mission, began cooking there. She enrolled in the Culinary Job Training program to improve her knife skills and learn to focus better on her work. Her dream job isn’t being a star chef or having a show on the Food Network. “I’d like to save up some money and find a building and fix it up, and give back, give people help like these people gave me,” she said.