Friday, April 30, 2010
Chef Timothy Tucker’s students are not the typical individuals you would expect to be enrolled in intensive culinary classes – they’re homeless or living below the poverty line. But through these classes Chef Tucker is not just meeting the momentary needs of the disadvantaged population, he’s empowering them to support and sustain themselves for the rest of their lives.
Timothy graduated with a degree in culinary arts and worked in high end restaurants. He later spent a few years doing research and development on an organic farm where he says he began to understand that diet affects all areas of an individual’s functionality, attitude and behavior, and that food can play a significant role in healing.
Chef Tucker, wearing black, with his culinary students.
He brought this knowledge with him to The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope in Louisville, KY in 2005, where he developed the Culinary Training Program, an intensive 10 week course that teaches basic culinary skills needed to find an entry level position in the food and hospitality industry. Here, homeless or impoverished students learn everything from safety and sanitation in the kitchen, to knife skills, to preparing a range of foods, and much more. They’re tested weekly and even cook for events and fundraisers to raise support for this self-funded program.
The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program even has two gardens outside – one is the half the size of a football field and the other half the size of a basketball court – where fresh vegetables and herbs are grown for use in the kitchen. According to the Program’s Facebook page, these organic gardens grow nearly 1,500 pounds of produce each year which help feed the Center’s homeless. Amazing!
Culinary students receive intensive training and hands on practice in the kitchen. (Photos: Culinary Program’s Facebook page)
On average, 9 students complete the course each semester, and Chef Tucker says approximately 75% of his graduates secure work. The remaining 25%, however, don’t acquire a job not for lack of skill or help from the Program, but rather a lack of desire to rejoin the workforce. But Chef Tucker says he’s confident those individuals would be able to find a job if they pursued it. Meanwhile, he says he has visited his former students in their new work places and receives wonderful feedback about his program.
Under the guidance of Chef Tucker, The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program has done a great job of not just feeding the homeless but reducing homelessness through education and opportunity. He is working with other Salvation Army facilities across the country to replicate this program and reach other disadvantaged populations.
For more information about the amazing work of The Louisville Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program, visit their website at www.centerofhoperadio.org . Also visit them here on Facebook and help them reach their goal of 3,000 friends by the end of May!