Community Dinner Kitchen Skills Training
University Place Christian Church, Champaign, IL
Our Community Dinner Program relied for years on volunteer workers with one paid university intern and a church staff person as supervisor. Starting in the fall of 2018, we would like to add four additional paid positions, filled by at-risk youth from the neighborhood closest to us. These youth would be paid US $12/hour to work under the supervision of our paid Kitchen Manager. Our Kitchen Manager has been with us from the beginning, starting as an unpaid intern, and is now a community college graduate working on his 4-year degree in restaurant management.
We serve one meal weekly throughout the academic year. Students will learn culinary skills and gain job-readiness by learning the importance of meeting standards of punctuality, job safety, and hygiene. They will also gain the transferable skills of meeting expectations for interaction with co-workers, and reporting to a supervisor. In addition, Community Dinner Kitchen Skills Training aims to create an informal mentoring environment where high school students work side by side with university student volunteers. Our kitchen work times include intentional efforts at building camaraderie, and our dining experience encourages guests from all sectors of the community to greet and interact with one another around tables. Typical community dinner participants include many food insecure university students, parents, and children from our neighboring community, homeless men and women who rely on our food pantry during the week, workers of all kinds from across campus, faculty, church members, and the volunteers themselves.
The addition next fall of a critical mass of striving high school students will enrich the entire program, creating another bridge between campus and community in our diverse neighborhood.
Mission Category: At-Risk Children and Youth
Catalyst Grant: US $5,000