Dare to Care Food Bank broke ground on its planned Dare to Care Community Kitchen in the Parkland neighborhood in Louisville’s West End during a press conference Oct. 17.
It was also announced at the press conference that the Common Table Culinary Arts program, an initiative of Catholic Charities of Louisville, will be housed in the new community kitchen. Common Table students will prepare food for Dare to Care’s programs, including its Kids’ Cafe.
Lisa DeJaco Crutcher, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, said the partnership with Dare to Care will help Common Table students further hone their skills and fill a need in the community.
The Common Table job training program currently operates in a kitchen at the former St. Anthony School on West Market Street. The new space will give students access to commercial-grade kitchen equipment, said DeJaco Crutcher.
Laura Stevens, director of Common Table, said the new space will provide students with more real-world experience.
“Graduates will leave the program more prepared to work in a commercial kitchen through more extensive equipment knowledge, more hands-on experience and experience working different kitchen stations than those available in our program currently,” Stevens said.
Common Table provides certified culinary and job-skills training to refugees and other unemployed and underemployed individuals.
It aims to break the cycle of poverty through culinary arts training, life-skills coaching and one-on-one support, Stevens said.
The new kitchen will triple the size of Dare to Care’s current kitchen, expanding capacity for its existing programs, as well as new programs to serve the estimated 170,000 food insecure people in the Louisville area, said Stan Seigwald, Dare to Care’s director of policy and planning.
Dare to Care currently produces after-school meals five days a week — up to 2,000 a week — for 30 Dare to Care Kids’ Cafe sites around Louisville.
The larger facility will not only allow the agency to produce more meals but will also allow it to expand its current reach.
“By having a larger space and more hands, we will be able to prepare fresh items in a number of ways. Turning butternut squash into soup, for example, freezing and distributing beyond our current reach,” he said.
During the eight-week Common Table program, students learn the basics of working in the food service industry and obtain their ServSafe Food Handler’s Permit. Through classroom and hands-on learning, participants receive a total of 250 hands-on food training hours during the course.
Seigwald noted that many community kitchens across the country also engage in job training.
“It’s something we’ve looked at for years but didn’t know how to do it. Rather than reinvent the wheel, it’s been great to partner with Catholic Charities to accomplish that purpose,” Seigwald said.
The new community kitchen is located at 28th and Virginia streets in a former grocery store. Louisville Metro Government owns the building, located at 1200 S. 28th St., and has entered into a long-term lease with Dare to Care at the rate of $1 per year for 25 years.
To date, 69 students have completed the Common Table training program since it started in 2015. Currently, eight are enrolled in the program. Laura Stevens, director of Common Table, said the partnership with Dare to Care will likely allow more students to take part in the program in the future.
“This partnership will allow us to provide additional learning opportunities to our students,” Stevens said.
Construction is underway at the new community kitchen and is expected to be completed in April 2020.