Food bank's culinary program serves more than food

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Lowcountry Food Bank has a culinary program that serves up a hot daily meal to children and seniors in the area, and the program is making a difference in more ways than one.

Across from the Lowcountry Food Bank warehouse floor are the sounds of a head chef's instructions and food sizzling inside the Zucker Family Production Kitchen.

"This has been a generous gift from the family to the Lowcountry Food Bank, and it is absolutely critical in helping us fight hunger in the community," said CEO Pat Walker.

A thousand meals are prepared daily and put into a container to be sent out to feed children and seniors in the community.

The food works program was created in 2011. It's a full-circle approach to fighting hunger by also giving back to those willing to get their hands messy.

"The goal is that those who are unemployed or underemployed acquire the skills here at the Lowcountry Food Bank while they are giving back to the community preparing meals, and then they in turn can go into the community and get jobs in the culinary industry," said Walker.

Apprentices must be selected for the 12-week program where training doesn't take place in just the commercial kitchen.

"Once the apprentices have met those necessary skills with us, they are actually placed in a restaurant or catering service in our community to see what it is really like to work in the culinary industry," Walker said.

This new field placement addition has already proven to be successful for the program.

"In our recent graduating class, which was the first time we've done the field placement, both of our apprentices who did the field placement and successfully completed ended up being employed by those two people in the community who offered to mentor those students," Walker said.

It seems the program is creating more than one recipe for success.

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