Charlotte culinary school has solution to poverty

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 7:58 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Community Culinary School of Charlotte figures the solution to poverty has to get to the root of the problem: a good job. In this case, it comes in the food industry.

As the school puts it – “We do more than hand someone a fish - we teach students how to clean, cook and sell fish.”

They help launch careers for those who may have been in prison, have battled addiction, or faced some other challenge in life.

The school’s kitchen sits behind a lunchtime diner on Monroe Road in southeast Charlotte.

It’s where Jamie Boll met a few of their students.

Anthony Davis: I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of going down the wrong road.

Jamie: What was the wrong road?

Anthony: I’d been incarcerated on a few occasions. I just recently was released in January, served five and a half years. So, I knew that I had to change. I had to get around different individuals. Once I came to this program, and I spoke to chef Ron and a few other individuals, I knew that this was like a family.

Adrea Bonds: I found that when I got here, that they have a holistic approach and some of the other things like my mental health or other items or issues I may have, they also helped me get connected that way. So the holistic approach is what attracted me here.

Jamie: Were there challenges in life that you were trying to overcome at that time when you got here Adrea: Absolutely. Not really having a place to stay - I was like, how can I start school if I don’t have a place to live?

Jamie: So you were homeless?

Adrea: Basically, yes, but now they’ve helped me get into, you know, where I have stable housing right now. And once I finish, I’ll be making top dollar in order to move out and get my own place.

Britney Lee: I’m a mother of eight. So one of my biggest things is when you know better, you do better. So I came here to learn the better. So I’m excited for it to be able to find a nice job afterwards and be able to be placed out there in the real world with you know, top dollar, working, knowing your worth.

Jamie: Do you look at the future different now?

Anthony: Yes, sir. Quite. Yeah, that’s because they gave me a second opportunity. They allowed me to think different. Trust will have a major factor in me with trusting people. So I just like the program, but I just - it’s a blessing. Jamie: What does the future hold now?

Adrea: Well, it’s endless. And I’m in control of my own destiny.

Jamie: Are there days, it’s hard to come in? Or do you guys just look forward to getting here every day?

Britney: Some days, it’s challenging. I’m driving an hour, an hour and a half. But when I get in here, I’m like, I’m ready to go. I’m excited. Now, I’m ready to go home and cook what I’ve learned in here at home.

Jamie: So, if I catch up with y’all six months from now or a year from now, where do you want to be? 

Britney: I’m having my own business and food truck. I really want a food truck. Adrea: We’re doing some catering. Kind of like on the vegan side a little bit and a few little pastries and treats

Anthony: I’m planning to be cooking for you! Jamie: You tell me where and I’ll be there!

Sharon Watkins: So when I graduated, I also had an interest in working here. So that tells you a whole lot.

Jamie: How did you end up in the program?

Sharon: Well, I’ve been in the banking industry over 15 years. My passion has always been cooking, but in the banking industry, they’re always laying you off. So COVID took me out this time, and I made up my mind, I’m going to stick to what I love to do.

Jamie: To have the impact that you have, you know, like the stories we just heard, what does that mean?

Sharon: It means - I don’t want to cry - it means a lot to see each student come through this program, and just share what people always hold inside of them, and then see them prosper and do a lot better. It means a lot.

The Community Culinary School of Charlotte has been around for more than 20 years. It’s graduated more than 1,000 students, none of whom have to pay for the job training.

The school is a non-profit. SHARE Charlotte is making it easy for you to help fund the mission. Melissa Hovey explains.

Jamie: Melissa, when you hear these stories now what do you think?

Melissa: Oh my gosh, it’s just it really speaks to your heart And they’re getting the skills here to go make their lives better for them and their families.

Jamie: The community can help out what can they do? Melissa: we’re running shop for good. It’s a promotion where you can shop at nonprofits, Amazon wish list take something off their to do list by shopping their Amazon wish list. And for this school, you can buy them chef’s pants, cutting boards, the things they need to run the program here, so they’re not having to spend their money to do it. You have a couple of clicks, you can have it shipped directly to their door.

Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved.