Our Spotlight! is shining brightly on KRA partner, Cathedral Kitchen (CK), and the students enrolled in KRA’s Out-of-School Youth (OSY) Program, funded by the Camden County Workforce Investment Board.
Nigel Charles, KRA/Camden Instructor, reports, “In November 2015, during an OSY Workshop session, we discussed a 2014 Census Bureau statistic that close to 40% of the Camden, New Jersey population lives below the federal poverty level. Beginning with the general challenges imposed by living in poverty, the discussion soon evolved into the specific, day-to-day impact, including the lack of enough food, that poverty has on families and their children.”
Motivated to action, and familiar with CK as a KRA/Camden Community Work Experience (CWE) provider-partner, the students decided to organize a January 2016 Canned Food Drive—promoting the campaign by word-of-mouth and signage in the office—to benefit CK’s core emergency-food supply program.
CK has served free nutritious meals for the past 30 years, currently providing more than 1,925 meals a week onsite, as well as “take home” bags with additional food. CK also supplies meals and food to local after-school programs, food pantries, and smaller soup-kitchen operations.
Nigel continued, “Since 2010, CK has been an in valuable CWE partner, providing hands-on workplace experience for our OSY students, as well as our TANF and General Assistance recipients. And, our partnership has expanded, with CK recently creating more positions for students to complete their community-work experience obligations, and to develop marketable job skills through CK’s coveted Culinary Arts Training Program, under the expert guidance of the Head Chef!”
Keith Torres, an OSY participant, commented that his CK/CWE has “exposed me to a career path I knew little about and now I am interested in pursuing.” Once Keith receives his high-school diploma through the KRA/Camden HiSET Program, he is assured a training slot that will start him on the career-path to self-sufficiency.
The OSY Drive contributions were warmly received by CK, with Case Manager Denise King, commenting, “There is no donation that goes unappreciated. Every bit counts, and we are grateful that you thought of us.” Motivated by the results of their campaign, the students are already planning a second CK Drive for February.