Our Food Service Training Academy (FSTA) provides students with the opportunity to gain culinary skills and learn about themselves. As they study in the classroom and cook in the kitchen, we follow their journey to a better life through the FoodBank’s free, 16-week job-training program. Our students have different stories, but they all share the goal of walking the stage on graduation day and entering the food industry. The FSTA gives them the skills — everything from knife cuts to communicating with others — to succeed.
We recently spoke with Nestor and Jasmine, current students who have faced obstacles in their lives. They’re now moving forward to reach their dreams, both hoping to pursue careers in baking.
Nestor told us about how he dropped out of high school to enter Job Corps. He found himself involved in a gang, which held him back from becoming a pastry chef. He missed out on several years of his daughter’s life due to the path he took. When he left the gang, he decided to set an example for his daughter by following his dream. Nestor wants to return to his homeland of Saint Thomas to open a bake shop with traditional island favorites and modern flavors.
“You can go from being on the wrong side of life to the right side of life,” he said.
As for Jasmine, she has faced many challenges in her life. Currently, she is trying to set a good example for her 1-year-old son. Although she struggled in the past, the FSTA is her chance to “try again” and she hopes to make it to graduation.
“I just know I have to keep going,” she told us. “This program keeps me going.”
Jasmine learns something new about cooking, baking and herself every day. She has come to recognize that she needs to work on her communication skills, something our program addresses through its Life Skills portion. She hopes to become a baker with a focus on cakes — maybe even have her own line of desserts, like Patti LaBelle.
“I can’t see my life without this program.”
To hear more about the FSTA from our students, please click here.