A Tasty Partnership
Since its inception in June 2014 the Culinary Literacy Kitchen at the Free Library has been revolutionizing the way the city of Philadelphia thinks about food. Offering over 350 classes a year, the kitchen teaches and educates on all things food. From children learning how to use a chef’s knife to hosting cookbook authors and local chefs, to hosting and promoting our own Sister Mary’s Sinfully Delicious Cranberry Sauce the Culinary Kitchen is making an impact on local health.
Where do all the plates, utensils and leftovers go when the classes are finished? Glad you asked because that’s where Project HOME comes in. Building upon a relationship that has spanned over a decade Project HOME’s Social Enterprise department approached Elizabeth Fitzgerald, the program’s administrator, about having current and former residents of Project HOME fill the role of dishwasher. On its face this might seem like a match made in heaven, but only with the cooperation and understanding of the staff of the Culinary Literacy Kitchen could such a relationship blossom.
The supportive employment model that Project HOME employs in its Social Enterprise businesses and ventures relies on supervisors and volunteers to have a high emotional IQ in order to best motivate and supervise those with past drug, alcohol or mental health challenges. This is not the easiest path to take when starting a new program as our staff require more attention and support as they reintegrate into the workforce.
Elizabeth and her team have been up for every success and challenge balancing positive feedback with a need to tweak or improve the day to day operations. Always open and honest about their desire to see people succeed the Culinary Literacy Team practices and employs a warmth and understanding to all who attend the programs and especially to those they work with. This support has allowed two individuals to gain work experience in a field where they previously had none and to improve their resumes when seeking outside employment.
Bold ideas and programs that support the surrounding Philadelphia community are rare and need to be singled out as they change people’s lives and the effects can ripple out to those around them. Project HOME is proud to be a partner with the first library in the country to offer culinary literacy programming and we look forward to many more years of pioneering ideas where those in need can succeed.