INDIANAPOLIS — Second Helpings may be most known for the work they do connecting Hoosiers in need to nutritious meals, but the work to address hunger and poverty in central Indiana does not stop there.
Every month at Second Helpings a new session of the Culinary Job Training Program begins. Over the course of the seven week program, students get hands-on experience in the kitchen at Second Helpings to prepare them for a job in the culinary industry.
"This is what I've always wanted. Cooking is my life, food is my life," Toyin Quadri said.
Quadri moved to Indianapolis two years ago from Nigeria, where she owned a catering company, but there's been times since the move she doubted if she could reach her goals in Indiana.
"I got to this point in my life where I wasn't sure living was worth it or anything I tried to do was was worth anything," she said.
That was until she enrolled in the Culinary Job Training Program at Second Helpings. Students not only work on skills in the kitchen, but the chefs focus on building their students up mentally.
"If your mind is not in the game, then you can't fulfill your obligations. So we want to make sure they have a good clear mindset going into the job that there's no distractions and they are fully capable," Keith Brooks, Culinary Job Training Program instructor said.
Each day they start class with motivational videos, something that really helped Quadri during her time in the program.
"It was like a new me evolving again. I said, oh I got a lot to live for, I got to land these American cooking skills; I got to start something someday," Quadri said.
The program is geared towards unemployed or underemployed Central Indiana residents. The course is led my two chefs, with the goal to get students acclimated to working in a professional kitchen environment.
"Each class presents a new challenge with all new barriers and I just love seeing that light bulb come on for them," Kyle Burnett, an instructor said. "I like seeing the walls come down so they can push through challenges that have been hindering them for years."
The entire cost of the training is covered including a tablet, textbook and the certifications they earn. WRTV sponsored Quadri's class in April by providing a $5,000 check from the Scripps Howard Foundation.
"I want to say a big thank you to the school. I want to say the biggest thank you to WRTV, they did this for me," Quadri said.
Quadri hopes to own her own restaurant in the future with American and Nigerian food. It's a dream she now feels confident she can reach once again.
"It means a lot to me for me, it means everything," she said.
The Culinary Job Training Program requires 280 hours of total work over the course of 35 days. With that time commitment, working a job can be difficult for students. Second Helpings provides a gas card or bus pass for transportation and a food bag every weekend.
More than 75% of students who graduated over the last four years are employed, according to Second Helpings.