Down-on-their-luck students find recipe for success in midtown program

Changing lives with food

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Caridad Community Kitchen Culinary Training Program in midtown just graduated its latest class of twelve.

For them, Caridad isn’t just a cooking school. It is a recipe for a better life. Diego Sotelo planned to go back to working hard labor, when his brother in New York heard about Caridad and suggested Diego try it.

“I’ve had some trouble in my past,” Diego said. “Being an ex-convict…that’s basically where you end up - doing hard labor, so I was looking for something where I could grow and succeed doing something.”

He found that at Caridad, a branch of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. The program’s mission is to help students like Diego, who have barriers standing between them and a bright future.

"We provide a free culinary training program that covers basic skills, safety and sanitation, and career readiness,” said Megan Black, Caridad program manager.

Culinary school can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year, so for Southern Arizonans in need, Caridad provides a free alternative.

This is the 28th class to graduate from Caridad. There are about three sessions each year. The students also give back to the community, as part of their training is making meals for people in need.

Trainees receive ServSafe certification, job placement assistance, and more. They must be at least 18 with basic literacy skills, meet low income requirements, and have been drug free for at least 180 days.

Learn more at the Community Food Bank.

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