Small actions can make a big difference! Every time you check out at City Market, you can choose to round up your total to the nearest dollar. The difference is donated to Feeding Chittenden and other partners who are working on the ground to support and strengthen our community. Together, we’ve raised $1,433,616.35 since the start of the program! This August alone, we sent $9,290 to Feeding Chittenden to support their critical work to improve food security.
Feeding Chittenden is far more than a food shelf. They have committed to reducing barriers for vulnerable Vermonters in need of assistance, including New Americans, Veterans, people of color, people experiencing homelessness, and children. Beyond their flagship Food Shelf, they offer grocery delivery services to older Vermonters and Vermonters who stay at home due to limited mobility or fragile health. They also fight food waste by working with local markets and farmers to save about 10,000 lbs. of edible, nutritious food every month. Additionally, their Hot Meal Program provides hot to-go meals every morning, Monday through Friday.
One of the most exciting programs that Rally for Change helps fund at Feeding Chittenden is the Community Kitchen Academy. CKA is a seven-week culinary job training program operated in partnership between Feeding Chittenden and the Vermont Foodbank. Students develop the professional and interpersonal skills they need to find and retain employment in the hospitality industry, while preparing meals that fight hunger in our community. Recent graduate Raven was kind enough to share her CKA story.
Raven was going through a bit of a stressful period when she first heard about Feeding Chittenden’s Community Kitchen Academy program - between working 12 hour shifts, taking online community college classes, and cooking dinner for her family, she was feeling exhausted. Then a mentor advised her to “take on the things she really likes” as a way to improve her mental health and set her life on a new track; for Raven, that meant cooking. “I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant, ever since I was a little kid,” she said.
Raven was not pushed towards culinary school during her childhood in the Philippines. Despite her passion in the kitchen, she felt pressured to pick a route where she was more likely to find financial stability. If she mentioned her dreams of culinary school and cooking professionally, some people would reply: “You don’t need to go to culinary school– you already know how to cook!”
After learning about CKA, she decided to take a chance by filling out an application. After being accepted into the program, Chef Jim Logan challenged her to take on difficult recipes. “Whenever I’d come (to Feeding Chittenden) at the end of my 12-hour shift, I didn’t feel like I was tired,” she says. “The atmosphere is different - it’s different when you do it because you like it.”
Through the Community Kitchen Academy program, Raven did more than learn valuable culinary skills. Like other CKA students, she fed her community every time she learned a new recipe. Each day, the students would make high-quality meals and then serve them to the public from the Good Food Truck.
For her final CKA project, Raven made a Filipino rice bowl. She loves cooking Filipino food, and her goal is to bring more of it to Burlington. “Vermont is very innovative, and really open to supporting local businesses,” she said. Raven started CKA with ambition and she came away with the skills to start her own business. She’s working hard to bring tastes of her home country to Vermont, but she plans to add her own unique twist– Raven wants to make baked goods like cookies, but “infuse them with Filipino flavors.” For now, she’s working on recipes with Chef Jim Logan and testing them out on her family, but soon hopes to start selling her food to the public.