Shynitha completed the Foodservice Training program in 2003 and maintains strong ties to Inspiration Corporation. She has been consistently employed since graduation, and moved swiftly up the ranks in her current position at Rick Bayless’ Frontera Express in the State Street Macys. For Shynitha the experience was transformative: “A lot of people understood and kept me on the path I’m on now. People who told me never to give up.”
Students receive hands-on instruction, kitchen demonstrations, classroom culinary instruction, nutrition education, employment and life skills classes, and learn about foodservice sanitation, after which all participants test to receive food handlers certificates (required by the State of Illinois to work in any retail food establishment). Foodservice Training students also complete Inspiration Corporation's Employment Preparation Training course, gaining the same foundational skills as Employment Services participants. The three-week training supports participants’ efforts to undertake transformative change, addressing barriers that have prevented them from becoming employed.
After graduating from the three-week course, students gain hands-on restaurant and catering experience through a 9-week internship at the agency’s Inspiration Kitchens – Garfield Park restaurant, working lunch, brunch and dinner shifts and learning a broad range of skills. Training is supported by individualized case management, providing assistance to address barriers to success and providing resources such as referrals, direct support grants, and transportation passes.
Following graduation, case managers work with graduates to obtain and retain employment and continue to provide support, including identifying opportunities for continued education. The average length of participation in the program from enrollment to a successful placement is 5.25 months. Students and graduates are also eligible to participate in the agency’s Meals program after enrolling in Foodservice Training.
The first step to enrolling in the program is to attend an open orientation. Orientations are held every Tuesday at 1:00PM at Inspiration Kitchens - Garfield Park, 3504 W. Lake St. Click here for more information on how to enroll, including eligibility requirements.
The Foodservice Training program received the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago's Highly Innovative Program Award in 2005 and the Harry Chapin Foundation's Self-Reliance Award in 2007.
If you are interested in finding out more information on the Inspiration Kitchens social enterprise, including information on catering or restaurant hours, menus and location, please visit the Inspiration Kitchens website.