News From the Kitchen
Want more opportunities to learn about healthy, nutritious food in your communities? Our School Nutrition team has put together a survey to hear your ideas! One of our main goals is to support healthy lifestyles, and we can’t do that without your input.
Below is a message from our Nutrition and Communications Coordinator Caroline Robb, who is in charge of getting our healthy initiatives into our schools and neighborhoods!
We are in the development phase of creating workshops, courses, and other offerings for you to learn more about healthy eating, cooking, and other related topics. We are so excited to expand our community impact and to bring healthy lifestyle ideas to you, but in order to do so, we need your help! Please take a moment to let us know how we can best bring these opportunities to you by clicking this Community Education Survey. We can’t wait to get started!
Think we need more diverse programming in your community? We really want to know what you all are interested in– cooking skills? Understanding nutrition? Lifestyle balance? Budgeting? We want to help with all that we can, but we can’t if we don’t know what you might need. Please fill out this survey and give us all of your thoughts!
-Posted by Hana Rabin, Development Intern
We love our schools, and they love us! St. Andrews recently thanked Mr. Wendell for bringing them delicious meals every day, as he will now be a trainer in our School Nutrition Program!
“Mr. Wendell is beloved. We are excited that he is being promoted to trainer at Liberty’s Kitchen because he is so great at what he does. We will miss our daily moments with him. The Tadpoles made him a card and dessert to say thank you. We welcome Mr. Larry as our new delivery driver. We are very happy with our food provider. We get all forms of nourishment from our relationship with Liberty’s Kitchen!”- St. Andrews School
Mr. Wendell is an integral part of our operation here at Liberty’s Kitchen, as he has been with us for a long time providing meals to our schools. His promotion to trainer in our School Nutrition Program is a well-deserved step and we are so excited to see what he can do to expand SNP!
Here he is with Tallie, a St. Andrews student and Liberty’s Kitchen family member (Her dad, Seth, is our Director of Social Enterprise!)
We love providing nutritious meals to all of our schools every day, and bringing children of all ages food they might not have access to otherwise. This summer, we’ll be participating in the USDA Summer Food Service Program to continue delivering healthy meals to local children while school is out of session. Stay tuned for more updates from SNP!
– Posted by Hana Rabin, Development Intern
Our very own Culinary Training Manager, Chef Tasheena, has been named the Catalyst Kitchens 2016 Catalyst for Change! This award recognizes an individual from the CK network whose outstanding service and dedication to empowering lives through job training has made significant impact on individuals, their community, and the field of food service social enterprise. Chef Tasheena was selected out of twenty nominations from across the country and we are thrilled to honor her for her hard work and dedication to the LK mission. Beyond her commitment to our young people, Tasheena is a joy to work with and brings an unparalleled work ethic and contagious laughter to everyday.
Among her accomplishments:
- Increased Youth Development Program applications by 14%
- Increased program graduation rate by 14%
- Increased youth placed in jobs by 33%
- Decreased youth leaving the program by 43%
“When I think of the words “above and beyond,” my mind goes straight to Tasheena. She is selfless and generous, and has fun every step of the way.” — Dave Emond, Executive Director
We sat down for an exclusive interview with our rockstar to hear about the philosophy behind the work.
Tell us about yourself
I’m from New Orleans, born and raised. I’ve been a chef for over 10 years. I opened my own restaurant and it was a great and proud moment, however I had to close the doors. I always knew at some point I wanted to teach. I was very excited at the prospect of working at LK — it would allow me to take everything I had learned, my successes, my failures, and pass it on to teach and enlighten another group of people. It’s one thing to have a skillset, but if you don’t share it, it dies with you. But this way it perpetuates and goes on through what you teach others.
What do you do at LK?
My official job title is Culinary Training Manager – but I always say I’m a chef instructor. In the way that our program is set up, young people come to me after they go through Foundations where they’ve learned a lot of life skills and gotten comfortable with the culture of LK. I’m their first introduction into the weird wide world of culinary. I teach them the basics: how to use a knife, culinary math, sanitation, how to identify a tilt skillet and blast chiller — foundational baseline skills that they can continue to grow on as they work their way through program
What does it mean to you to be a Catalyst for Change?
I feel so incredibly blessed. Every group I work with in my professional and personal life are all people who are agents for change and I feel privileged to work with so many different people. What it means to me is that we recognize that things aren’t always as they should be. We have a responsibility to fight for giving everybody a fair shot. For those of us with the good fortune to have been raised well and educated well and have opportunities, we owe it to those who maybe life hasn’t been as kind to, to reach back and not give handouts but hands up.
For me, it comes down to doing small things with great love. Change is very difficult. It doesn’t come overnight. But it’s surprising to me how simple acts can really change the trajectory of someone’s life. We’re not saving lives in that we’re not running into burning buildings or curing cancer. But it’s these small things: giving that attention to detail and good spirit and cheer. It’s small acts of great love that can have lasting and sustaining impacts on people’s lives. Those small acts when added together, when done all over by different people, those small acts become big acts and big changes happen incrementally through small changes. A journey of 1000 miles happens one step at a time.
Any insights for others seeking to be Catalysts for Change?
I would say just remembering that it sometimes can get discouraging when things aren’t happening at the pace you think they should be, because long-term success takes time and it’s a process. Don’t get discouraged and trust the process. The road is not just a straight line, there are points where you have to veer left or right or turn around and all of that is part of it. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Change is coming. It might seem like it happens “suddenly” but the truth is you’ve been working at it this whole time.
We are so proud to have Chef Tasheena on the team and grateful to Catalyst Kitchens for their amazing support of our work!
This past Wednesday, our Youth Development Program offered a career event that included a job fair and an exclusive Skills Share Round Table. Representatives from ShiftGig, MoPho, Pagoda Cafe, Creole Cuisine, Ruby Slipper, and City Greens came to the job fair ready to hire. Susan Spicer, owner of Bayona, Mondo, and Rosedale and longtime partner of Liberty’s Kitchen, also joined the event.
During our first ever Skills Share Round Table, Liberty’s Kitchen youth had the opportunity to hear from professionals in an intimate discussion setting. Employers discussed the importance of accountability, punctuality, and attendance for achieving workplace success, all of which are heavily stressed in our Youth Development Program. They also talked about the organizational culture and company values within their respective organizations.
The event was open to both alumni and current program participants and brought in a total of 17 young adults. Onsite childcare was provided during the event for parents who are seeking employment opportunities. Liberty’s Kitchen stresses equity and access to provide all young adults with the opportunity for success.
A huge thanks to all of the employment partners who attended the event including Donnie Middleton and William Owens from ShiftGig, Jeff Gulotta from MoPho, Shana Sassoon from Pagoda Cafe, Steve Lowry and Thomas Burns from Creole Cuisine, Becky Leone and Ethan Gardam from Ruby Slipper, Abhi Bansali and Justin Faulkner from City Greens, Susan Spicer, owner of Bayona, Mondo, and Rosedale and also to Kayla Paul Wiggins, Devon Turner (Youth Leadership Program Coordinator), and Dix Marie deLaneuville (Career Development Manager) for their assistance with childcare service.
Our next job fair and Skills Share round table will be held on Wednesday, April 19th.
If you are an employer interested in attending future job fairs and/or Skills Share roundtables, please contact our Career Development Manager, Dix Marie deLaneuville (Ms. D) at email@example.com.
—Posted by Rhea Lewis (Development Intern)