Maricopa County and St. Mary's Food Bank are teaming up to help the homeless, formerly incarcerated, and other low-income individuals gain job skills. On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Industrial Authority (IDA) presented a check to St. Mary’s for $40,000 as part of a one-year grant for the St. Mary’s Community Kitchen program, which provides hands-on experience in the food service industry.
“The grant from the IDA to Community Kitchen is about giving more people the chance to reach their full potential,” said Steve Chucri, District 2, Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. “When that happens, anything is possible and Maricopa County becomes an even better place to live.”
“We all want a livable wage and that’s what Community Kitchen can provide to people who need it most,” said Supervisor Steve Gallardo, District 5. “St. Mary’s has been a great partner to the county and I’m glad to see the relationship expand in a way that will make our community stronger.”
Community Kitchen provides free vocational and life skills training, job placement, and other assistance to help vulnerable, homeless, formerly incarcerated, and other low-income people of all demographics secure and maintain employment in the food service industry.
“There are a lot of great jobs in the food service industry where hard work is rewarded and you can advance your career,” said Supervisor Clint Hickman, District 4. “With this program, St. Mary’s and the county are demonstrating a shared commitment to serving the under-served.”
“Community Kitchen is an example of a partnership that improves lives and grows our economy,” said Supervisor Bill Gates, District 3. “I’m impressed with the work being done in the kitchen and how culinary skills and life skills are integrated to provide people a new path forward.”
Community Kitchen will also serve unemployed people, those receiving government assistance, victims of violence, young adults (18-24) who want a culinary career but cannot afford college, and people in addiction recovery programs.
“Community Kitchen gives people practical skills to find and keep a stable job and contribute to the community in a positive way,” said Supervisor Denny Barney, District 1. “This investment from the IDA will allow St. Mary’s to refine an already successful program and, ultimately, double the number of people being served.”
With the grant money, St. Mary’s plans to consolidate the program’s curriculum from 16 to 12 weeks; expand lessons; provide internship opportunities; and, work with community partners to replicate the program so that St. Mary’s is nearly doubling the number of people being served.
“Our Community Kitchen Program changes lives daily. This grant from the IDA allows us the chance to strengthen and expand a program that already boasts hundreds of success stories,” St. Mary’s Food Bank President and CEO Tom Kertis said. “We appreciate the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors’ interest in furthering our mission and the chance to impact more people seeking a new start.”
“The IDA has focused on investing in programs that can improve quality of life everywhere, regardless of income, background, or zip code and Community Kitchen is a perfect fit,” said Shelby Sharbach, Executive Director of the Maricopa County IDA.
For more information on Community Kitchen, click here.