Cooking Toward Her Dream

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey provides people across the state with FOOD, HELP and HOPE. One way we do this is through our Food Service Training Academy (FSTA), which is 16 weeks of culinary and life lessons. All the students have different stories, but they come to the FoodBank for the same reason – their passion for cooking.

Rosa, 21, joined the Academy in June in the hopes of getting one step closer to her culinary dreams. She works at The Cheesecake Factory and attends class in our Community Kitchen five days a week. Although she trained at Job Corps, Rosa told us the FoodBank curriculum is more fast-paced and resembles a commercial kitchen.

“They say this is four months of the real world,” Rosa told us. “And this really is four months of the real world.”

She said working alongside professional chefs has enhanced her experience because they guide and challenge her and her classmates. The most difficult thing for Rosa has been the pace, but she pushes herself to get better every day.

“My mom’s like, ‘you come home beat up,’” she said. “I tell her it’s worth it.”

After graduating from the FSTA, Rosa wants to open a food truck with her mother. She even has a GoFundMe page and a business strategy; her mom will cook savory dishes and she will bake.

The program has taught her a lot about cooking and working with a team, and it has boosted her confidence. She told us how the Life Skills component has helped her gain motivation.

“This is my long term,” Rosa said, “and it’s what I’m sticking with.”