News From the Kitchen
This afternoon, Liberty’s Kitchen celebrated the graduation of Jasmine and Durrell from the Youth Development Program. At the start of the ceremony, our Executive Director, Dave welcomed family, friends, current students, and program staff for being here to commemorate the accomplishments of both graduates.
Dave then handed it over to our Culinary Training Coordinator, Tasheena who described how committed Jasmine and Durrell were throughout the program.
In particular, she shared how Jasmine and Durrell quickly jumped into their roles before receiving their culinary training due to a staff shortage in kitchen. And Jasmine and Durrell both stepped right up to the plate. “They pushed us through the time with lots of changes in the kitchen in their regular clothes, no training, and had a great can-do attitude when LK was short on staff,” said Tasheena.
Tasheena described Durrell as a mature, collected individual whose mantra was “I’m going to be alright.” Durrell is continuing on with Liberty’s Kitchen and working full-time with the School Nutrition Program at Lawrence D. Crocker elementary school. His supervisor at Crocker, Brandon, also praised Durrell and the potential that he has exhibited.
Tasheena described Jasmine as a “worker bee” who always wants to do more. During the program, Jasmine was hired and is working at Remoulade in the French Quarter. She has already been promoted and is continuing to exhibit an incredible work ethic. Her manager at Remoulade attended the ceremony and echoed what a valuable employee Jasmine has been.
Other Liberty’s Kitchen staff members, including our Social Worker, Career Development team, and Barista Trainer shared further words of encouragement and afterwards our Career Development Manager, Ms. D, presented the graduates with their certificates and culinary knife sets.
Afterwards, both Jasmine and Durrell thanked LK for giving them this opportunity and for their support throughout the program. The graduates were then welcomed to the Youth Leadership Program and Youth Leadership Council by LK’s new Young Men’s Voices have Power (YMVP) interns, Ahmaad and DJ.
Finally, our Director of Youth Success, Dennis, congratulated both graduates and delivered closing remarks.
“We are incredibly proud of you and we love you. We are looking forward to supporting your success and if you are willing to cross that finish line, we will be there for you. At Liberty’s Kitchen, you get what you put in; these two put so much in which is why they’re up here today.”
Jasmine and Durrell, all of us at Liberty’s Kitchen are so proud of you and excited for what your futures will hold. Here’s to both of you!
–Posted by Rhea Lewis, Development Intern
Parades are great, but there are 3 cool things happening at Liberty’s Kitchen right now that we can’t help but share.
Guest Chefs are popping up at our Broad Street café for special dinners every month. Susan Spicer and Candis Koerner launched our first Guest Chef Night on February 9, serving up carnival cuisine from Trinidad, Italy, and New Orleans alongside alumni of our program. You can come to the next one! March 16, we are welcoming Chef Mike Gulotta. Tickets here: bit.ly/GCNMarch
Family Table is the hottest free ticket in town. Our Executive Director and staff have been hosting biweekly dinners that bring students, alumni, and community members together around important themes. We’ve had guest facilitators like A Scribe Called Quess who lead deep conversations about the meaning of family, giving back, home, and legacy. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Our Youth Development Program is turbocharged. We’ve totally revamped the way we serve youth, just by moving pieces around a bit. We’ve reduced our student-to-trainer ratio by half and added baking, catering, and school nutrition tiers to our basic training model. We’ve even added classes on administrative functions like fundraising and marketing. Check it out by scheduling a tour with us: email email@example.com.
Stay in the loop for future coolness by joining our newsletter. Hope to see you at the café soon!
— Posted by Harry Schnur
Our School Nutrition Program staff has worked hard all fall to start the school year off right, preparing thousands of healthy meals every day for local schoolchildren. Co-Production Managers Susan and Brandon joined our LK family in August and are a true Dream Team, bringing to the table skills in talent development, production, and communications, as well as an endless passion for SNP! We sat down with them to learn more.
Tell us about yourselves.
Susan: I am from El Salvador, a beautiful country I love and hold dear, but it has a lot of social and safety issues. Because of those issues I came to the United States in 2005 to follow my dream to better my range of opportunities and life choices. In the process of following that dream, my daughter is benefitting immensely from these new opportunities that I only dreamt of her having. I have worked in the restaurant industry since 2006 and have since transferred my kitchen abilities into the world of management and training. I believe that my culinary and managerial skills can be used as a tool for social change.
Brandon: I am originally from New Orleans and have traveled in different cities such as San Francisco, Atlanta and New York. I went to culinary school at the Art Institute of NYC. I connect fully with the mission of helping others which is the focal point of Liberty’s Kitchen.
What is SNP?
Susan: The School Nutrition Program is a branch of Liberty’s Kitchen that touches the lives of more than 1,500 kids and their families on a daily basis by nurturing them and fulfilling their need for a healthy, balanced diet. We believe good nutrition will facilitate kids’ success in academic performance as well as outside of school. One of our main objectives is to feed them with three to four meals on a daily basis with as much food made from scratch as we can, using local fresh products while following USDA guidelines. We aim to create menus that are both delicious and nutritious.
We hope to touch the lives of these kids not only through providing a balanced diet but also by being part of an integral education that will lead them to make better meal choices outside of school. To fulfill this goal, we are starting to work hand in hand with New Orleans College Prep to create and implement educational programs like: farm to school, composting, and school gardening whereby both Liberty’s Kitchen and the schools can educate kids on the importance of each project.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Susan: My favorite part is providing our team members with the right tools for success and seeing how the tools I’m giving them helps them work towards positive changes in their lives.
Brandon: I love feeding the children and menu development.
Where do you want SNP to be one year from now?
Susan: We know SNP will continue being a source of empowerment, betterment, and a tool for social justice and nourishment for our community. We are working to grow and give more people a chance to join this project. I see SNP making more job creation, education, and training opportunities possible. Just as importantly, it will keep bettering the lives of children through providing the nutrition they deserve and that they will receive through our special menus and educational activities.
Brandon: Agreed. It’s our goal to expand our program to other schools using the systems we have implemented.
Anything else to include?
Susan: Just a little quote: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” –Gandhi
We are thrilled to be rolling out an additional eight months of “next level” support and programming for YDP graduates! We sat down with stellar Youth Leadership Program Coordinator Devon Turner to learn about what’s ahead.
Tell us about YLP.
The Youth Leadership Program is an 8-month extension to the training program. It’s all about building upon previous personal successes to cultivate their leadership potential and address issues within their families, communities, and city.
What does that look like day to day?
A lot of this is brand new, so we’ve been building out a structure for the YLP and developing new programming. I’m working with two great interns – Wil Cousin and Raynard Janeau – who came to us through the Kellogg Foundation’s Young Men’s Voices (have) Power initiative. Together, we’ve focused on building an alumni community in general and a strong Youth Leadership Council specifically.
Day to day, we’re creating a community of graduates across time and place. We have six key areas of engagement: leadership and civic engagement, education, career development, advanced hospitality exposure, health and well-being, and social engagement. Every month we want to offer at least one activity in each of those areas and have a monthly check in and goal planning session to which all graduates are invited.
What are some events you’ve had?
Our Youth Leadership Council held its first meeting in March 2016, and programming started in May with a career development workshop. We’ve had additional career development workshops, a demonstration with Chef Renee at Palace Café, another with Chef Chris Okorie, goal planning sessions, give back opportunities, and opportunities for alumni to engage trainees. In April, alumni participated in the Raise the Age campaign, which was part of the juvenile justice reform movement. Youth Leadership Council members also participated in a leadership training offered by Harvard School of Government students and met with Councilmember Latoya Cantrell.
Tell us about the Youth Leadership Council.
The YLC is a group of very dedicated grads who are creating and developing alumni programming, recruiting new participants, and taking on leadership projects. The Council is intended to redefine existing narratives of young people in this city. Narratives about young people who work hard, who have a different vision for what the city can look like, who are tired of crime and miseducation and violence and substandard housing and urban blight – those stories are treated as celebrated exceptions. However, our participants demonstrate that those stories are far from the exception. They can speak very well about what this city could look like. My role is that of a facilitator and advisor.
Let’s talk future. What is the ultimate vision for YLP (one year from now)?
I’d love to see graduates who have really embraced a leadership role in their communities, who are really active in trying to address the social issues that affect them the most. In a beautiful world, they would be addressing those larger issues so they’re not just trying to survive from day to day, but tackling the issues that produce that kind of day to day living.
What does leadership mean to you?
To be a leader is to be someone who understands the day-to-day struggle and can transform that understanding into a call to action. As it pertains to YLP, we’re really helping graduates understand their strengths and their leadership potential, helping them to understand that being a leader is not something that’s dependent upon having “X” amount of dollars in your account or having achieved a certain level of formal education. We all can and should be leaders.