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Community Kitchen Stories

What I Learned in the Community Kitchen…

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s Community Kitchen culinary job training program has graduated sixty classes of students since it began in 1998. To recognize the occasion, we invited students from previous classes to share what they’ve learned with the current graduating class. Here are some of their comments.

Learn more about the Community Kitchen or support the Food Bank.


Jessica Podium

When I came to Community Kitchen I was overwhelmed by poverty and feeling hopeless. I had no direction for my life and would work whatever job came my way. Now I’m making the most money I’ve ever made in my life at a job where I learn new things every day and am really proud of the food that we put out. I know that money can’t buy happiness, but being able to live comfortably has relieved so much stress, and now I can focus on paying off my debt and saving for the day I can start my own farm-to-table restaurant.

Jess, Class 57 (2015)


Since I graduated, I built up my career in different restaurants – fast food, Italian food, country food, fine dining. I really loved all these experiences. Every single place that I worked has impacted my life in different ways and made me the person that I am right now. I’m very thankful to all the people who helped me to grow in this never ending learning process. I started as a single prep cook, then line cook, then kitchen lead, then sous chef …starting from doing so little and then doing major things: management, ordering and inventory.

Magda, Class 34 (2008)


David StudentsThe most important lesson I learned from Community Kitchen was to stop second guessing myself and my abilities. I knew what I was doing, as Chef Heather kept reminding me. Community Kitchen was more than a place to learn kitchen skills, but a family you could always rely on.

David, Class 41 (2010)


The most important lesson I learned from the Community Kitchen Program is how to focus my energies to prepare myself to take meaningful action to manifest my ideas, my goals and my dreams thoroughly and successfully. These lessons have been easily transferred, and become valuable to me, in the areas of my life that have nothing to do with food. 

Lisa, Class 42 (2011)


Lisa SpeakingCooking has always been a passion of mine, but I think being able to bring families and friends together to enjoy a meal that I’ve made for them keeps me going. If it wasn’t for Chef Heather, Chef Ron, and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank I’m not exactly sure where I would be today.

Jillian, Class 28 (2007)


First and foremost, attitude affects everything. Everything in life, including the availability of resources, can be influenced by your attitude.

Deb, Class 37 (2009)