SAN ANTONIO – There is more to the San Antonio Food Bank than just taking care of those who need a meal. The organization is going further by teaching students how to become chefs and use their new skills to pursue a career in the culinary industry, and, in turn, give back to others.
The food bank’s three-step initiative includes “Food for Today,” “Food for Tomorrow” and “Food for A Lifetime.” The last element of the initiative comes by way of the culinary training program.
The program is a free 18-week course. There are as many as 12 students in each class, and the program is taught by chef Gregory Williams.
“I love teaching in general, but the fact that this mission helps people better their lives is just the reward,” Williams said.
The students improve their lives by becoming more proficient at cooking and maybe even employed in the industry.
“The program is about (helping) people who want to enter into the culinary industry,” Williams said.
Venezia Garcia has wanted to own her own restaurant, and with an education from the food bank’s program, she could be well on her way.
“I want to do my own meal preps and help people eat better and, like, just show that fitness and eating good food can be the same,” Garcia said. “I am here to learn, for sure, absorb as much as I can.”
Another person taking advantage of the program is Dakota Prado, who recently moved to Texas from Colorado.
“When I came down here to Texas, I heard about this program, and I was, like, ‘Wow, like that seems like something really interesting,'" Prado said.
He has turned his interest into a career. After graduating from the course, he got a job at the San Antonio Food Bank.
“You are doing good for your community, giving back to your community,” Prado said.
He is also fulfilling the goals of the course: learning, graduating, getting a job in the culinary industry and then giving back to the community.
“It’s really trying to complete the life cycle of ‘We’ll take care of you now, but we’ve got your future, as well,’” Williams said.