“It is, for all of us, a life-changing program”

For many of our Food Service Training Academy students, the program provides a much-needed fresh start, in addition to teaching them cooking and food service skills. Marie, 35, was forced to leave her home country of Haiti two years ago when the political situation there created a hostile environment for her and her family.

“We were set up over there,” she told us. “I was learning to become a lawyer. We were working over there. We had a house. We had family, and our own business started over there. We were living peacefully.”

All of that changed when she and her husband decided to take an active part in the country’s political life. They faced persecution, giving Marie and her family no choice but to leave everything behind and come to the United States.

When they first arrived, she and her husband were unable to work and struggled to make ends meet. After months of searching for a way to provide for her family, Marie was referred to social services by a friend, where she found our FSTA brochure. Excited by the prospect, she called that same day to set up an interview.

“That offered me an opportunity that I couldn’t let run from me,” she said. Needless to say, she was thrilled to learn that she had been accepted to train alongside the FoodBank’s team of professional chefs.

As a member of our FSTA family, Marie recognizes the need for opportunity among her fellow students, as well—“It is, for all of us, a life-changing program.”

Marie looks forward to learning as much as possible throughout the 16-week intensive culinary Academy so that she can start working in the food service industry. Her ultimate goal is to open her own restaurant within the next five years.

“I’m thankful for being here,” she told us.