We began our Culinary Training program five years ago at no cost to students. Since then, it has provided training for more than 400 people and each one of those graduates have gone on to a career in the food industry. Our students and graduates inspire us daily.
"I said to myself, ‘Now is the time to do it because I have the time to do it.’" Elvin said. "Cooking is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time." Read story
He had dreams of going to culinary school but knew he’d have to work for years to afford even one class. That’s when he learned about Second Harvest Food Bank’s no-cost Culinary Training Program. Read story
"I was finally ready to make a change," says LeMoris as he recalls what led him to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s Culinary Training Program. Read story
"The biggest lesson I learned in the Culinary Training Program is to be coachable, to take feedback and look for opportunities to improve, in the kitchen and in life." Read story
"I was raised by my grandmother and became her caretaker for the last several years," she explains. "Now I am turning back the clock, going to school, and making my life better for myself." Read story
"It may seem small, but to me, this was a big deal," says Matilde. "And it’s not just one life my life that changed. It’s my whole family. Thank you." Read story
"From the first day I walked in, I felt like I had an angel around me. I feel like I have a big family again." Read story
"The day I was introduced to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida was one of the greatest days of my life." Read story
A few years ago, Clarimar and her husband escaped from the rising violence, economic instability and food shortages in Venezuela. Once they arrived in Central Florida, they set out to rebuild their lives. Read story
After a divorce, losing her home and becoming her daughter's caregiver, it was time for Rosemarie to start over for herself. She turned to the one passion she's always had, cooking. Read story
When Luzmary Gomez was 17, she found herself thousands of miles away from her hometown, her extended family and her friends. She fled the political unrest and violence in Venezuela. Read story
Originally from Haiti, Sofi left her home in pursuit of opportunity. She knew she had a deep passion for food and cooking. If she was given a chance to succeed, she knew she would take it. Read story
Rachelle and her family were unable to find a place to live earlier this year. They found themselves seeking help at a local homeless shelter. At the shelter, she learned about the Culinary Training Program. Read story
Nina has always loved to cook. As a stay at home mom, she prepared scratch-cooked meals for her family. Her husband had a good, steady job in maintenance for an apartment complex but sometimes it was not enough. Read story
Rachel harbored a secret passion for baking but never thought it would lead to a job, let alone a sustainable career. Little did she know that the support and training she needed was just a phone call away. Read story
At the 2019 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, two Second Harvest Culinary Training Program graduates took home honors in The Florida Wedding Cake Challenge, beating out veteran pastry chefs. Read story
The last place any parent wants to raise their children is in a homeless shelter. After a series of unfortunate events, including job loss and domestic violence, Qui and her sons were living in an emergency shelter. She’d hit rock bottom. Read story
Jorge was forced to leave his home in Venezuela. When he moved here, he knew little English and worked odd jobs. Learn more about his journey and what skills have helped him the most in his new job. Read story
A single mother with a 16-month-old daughter, Marie was juggling work as a prep cook with the stress of a young child when a friend told her about the Culinary Trainin Program at Second Harvest. Now working toward a career, and not just a job, Marie's life is changing for the better. Read story
Antonio is passionate about two things: cooking and children. Thanks to the guidance of past student, Chef Kenneth Neal, Antonio sought out an opportunity to make a better life for his kids and his future. Read story
A practicing lawyer in Venezula, when Johima moved to Orlando to be closer to her children, she found herself having to start over from scratch. Thanks to an internet search for career training, Johima fortunate to come across the food bank's Culinary Training Program, and now has a new beginning. Read story
Fleeing the violence and unrest of Venezuela after her father's death, Yoleida knew the road ahead of her would be difficult. When she learned about the food bank's Culinary Training Program, she knew what her direction toward a better life would be and works hard everyday to get there. Read story
Darnell Brown has dreamed of being a chef for as long as he can remember. He comes from a big family - he is one of eight kids - and meals were a time that everyone always came together. After high school he enrolled in culinary school but had to withdraw when his mother passed away. He set his dreams aside and started a landscaping business with some of his brothers to make ends meet. Read story
Last fall, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida launched its first bi-lingual class of its successful Culinary Training Program. Over the course of 16 weeks, the students learned the culinary and life skills training needed to transform their lives with a new career. Read story
Kevin Torres has cooked up a whole new life for himself and his family, and now he’s landed his dream job as a sauté cook at the Seasons 52 restaurant in Altamonte Springs, FL. Read story
Shandra went from a full-time job down to part-time in order to complete the program. She had to take a step back in order to move forward, and it has been worth it. Her dream to cook is now providing a better life for Shandra, her husband, James, and their four children. Read story
Michel’le Snell grew up with her grandmother and the two spent many days in the kitchen making family recipes. But when her grandmother’s house was foreclosed, Michel’le and her three daughters had to find a new place to live. With no job and no car, she spent her income tax return on two month’s rent.
Solinee Dulcio was recognized at the Top Student at last fall’s Culinary Training Program graduation. Originally from Haiti, Soline struggled with depression and unemployment before applying to the program. Today she is employed full-time at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort as a prep cook.
Miguel lost everything when Hurricane Maria devasted Puerto Rico in Fall of 2017. His story is 1 in over 140,000 Puerto Ricans who have arrived in Central Florida since the storm, but with the help of Second Harvest's Culinary Training Program, he is working toward rebuilding his life for him and his daughter.
Homeless and struggling, Theodore was looking for a second chance when he started in our 14-week Culinary Training Program. Now graduated, he has been able to turn his life around and find hope.
Katherine is just weeks away from completing Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program as part of the first Spanish-language class. In the past she has worked at a bakery, but steady work has been a challenge. Then, last fall, Hurricane Maria devastated her town in Puerto Rico.
Susan Anderson always loved cooking. When her wages stagnated, she lost her car and then her home, Susan applied to Second Harvest Food Bank's 14- week Culinary Training Program with the hope of a new beginning for her family. "I was working in retail management and food service but my career was stalled," recalls Anderson.
When Shandra started the Culinary Training Program at Second Harvest, she had no clue how much it was going to change her life for the better. She faced a lot of challenges heading in to the program, but along the way found the support and strength she needed to climb over those hurdles and flourish. Read and be inspired by Shandra's amazing story, and how she has been since leaving the program.