What's Ahead for FareStart

August 31, 2020

FareStart, along with the rest of the nation, is learning to live with a high degree of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are mourning losses along with our community and striving to contribute positively every day. We are also looking with hope toward a post-COVID-19 future.

In the realms of FareStart programs and businesses, our plan is to stay flexible, continue to assess community needs and our capacity to help in concert with our partners, so that we can continue to serve as many people in the community as we can with emergency meals, and also continue job training and placement support for the populations that benefit from our work. In the meantime, we are working at being an agent of anti-racism, equity and positive change in the region. We will continue to put our best foot forward!

Nourishing Communities with More Emergency Meals

FareStart has prepared more than 1 million emergency meals locally since the beginning of this pandemic ordeal, and we have supported an additional 9 million meals produced in other communities around the nation by our Catalyst Kitchens by FareStart network members. This critical work will continue while coronavirus continues to negatively impact so many citizens. While our other social enterprise businesses are shuttered, we will focus on critical emergency meals locally and nationally and continue to plan for the eventual reopening of many or all of our other businesses sometime in 2021.

Reimagining Student Programming

In September we will bring back nearly 20 of our adult culinary students who were put on pause in March, with the goals of graduation and employment. In addition to helping students complete the program they began pre-pandemic, we are using this opportunity to pilot some new training techniques during COVID (virtual training, and hands-on social distanced training).

Two new training modules, to be delivered remotely as part of a remote learning pilot, will be offered to FareStart Adult Program students this fall.

  1. “Self-Empowerment” classes will replace “Life Skills”. Ms. Joan, our fantastic self-empowerment skills instructor, and her team have rewritten this curriculum – arguably the most important training of all for FareStart students. Click here for more about this key piece of FareStart’s Adult Training Program.
  2. “Financial Futures” – A new training module that has been in the works for some time, this training will focus on financial capability and goal setting for students. It is tied closely to the Self-Empowerment course and has students examine their values, beliefs, mindsets and behaviors around money, set and pursue goals and gain knowledge about banking, debt and credit, and tools for budgeting and saving. 

Since programming paused on March 19, we have graduated 19 students and helped place 64 graduates and students in jobs and will continue doing as much job placement as possible. Our youth internships have restarted at MOD Pizza, and we are reaching out to those interns to answer questions and share resources for housing, childcare, food, health care and mental health services. We’re in discussion with our youth program partners about the future of those programs and exploring youth training in a virtual environment. We do not yet know when full programming will restart or if we’ll be able to bring back additional students in our buildings. Much of our training will depend on our ability to train and place graduates into jobs in the current environment.

Advocating for Change 

FareStart believes that every individual deserves the opportunity to thrive in an equitable and just world, and we are committed to anti-racism, and diversity, equity and inclusion, for our students, graduates, staff and volunteers. FareStart is taking steps in all areas of the organization to make our culture more closely reflect our values, is working to advocate for positive change in our communities.

To help in our commitment to advancing diversity and racial equity within our organization, FareStart recently welcomed Marcus Bryant as our chief people officer, leading our Human Resources team as well as our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work. Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Marcus brings a deep level of understanding and expertise through his lived experience, his tenure as chief diversity officer at Charleston Southern University and leading his own firm in addressing inequities across various industries. FareStart is fortunate to draw on his leadership to engage in and advance racial equity for our students, staff and communities.

We welcome questions from our supporters as we labor to help those in need and struggle for a better world. We may not have all the answers about the future our programs and activities yet, but we know that we gain knowledge, ideas and inspiration from our whole community of supporters – we are in this together! FareStart couldn’t do this work to care for our community without your steadfast support of our mission.