Culinary Program Motivates Students to Attend School

December 12, 2016

Cameka had never been very motivated in school and her attendance reflected this. That is until she heard about FareStart's Youth Culinary Program, operated in partnership with Seattle Public School's Interagency Academy. Being able to earn high school credit and a stipend, while learning new skills, piqued her interest. Within a week of enrolling in the program, her Interagency teacher noticed that Cameka's attendance had improved dramatically.

"I used to get up about 11 a.m., but once I started FareStart, I was motivated and happy to get up and go to school."

Cameka attributed this to the support of her FareStart instructors. On her first day, she was nervous about meeting new people but felt good after receiving a warm welcome. By day two, she realized that the chefs wanted her to succeed. A bond was created, something she'd never experienced with a teacher before.

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Initially, she thought she'd be washing dishes, while the chefs did the cooking. Instead, she learned to make salads and sandwiches, plus gained knife, customer service, cash handling and barista skills. She loved making food, but her favorite part was learning to work the cash register and interacting with customers. Before the program, she didn't have the confidence to even think she could do that.

"I gained confidence, as the chefs showed they had faith in me."

Another aspect she liked was the uniform she received upon entering the program. A shirt, hat and name tag all made her feel that she and her cohort were a team and in it together. At graduation, she received a set of kitchen utensils and her food handler's permit. She also came away with a newfound confidence to try things outside of her comfort zone.

After graduating from the program, Cameka participated in a summer internship working in the FareStart Cafe at Pacific Tower and loved it. She is now hoping to get a two-year college scholarship after earning her GED.