Just about a year ago, Liberty’s Kitchen café opened adjacent to the Whole Foods on Broad Street in a beautiful, modern space serving foods like fresh-baked bagels, flaky scones, flavorful soups, and seasonal salads – all of which are homemade. But more important than being a tasty spot for grabbing a bite to eat, Liberty’s Kitchen is a classroom and food-service training program for at-risk youth.
Many of the students in the program go on to find jobs in the hospitality sector, the city’s largest industry that employs nearly 80,000 people. In the meantime, the students are learning how to cook and work in a kitchen in the facility’s 10,000-square-foot space during a full-time program that lasts for 12 weeks.
That program includes a whole lot more than just cooking. In fact, the first three weeks of Liberty’s Kitchen training include life-skills tutoring that focuses on personal finances and building self-confidence. From there, culinary training and food-service training help students learn about everything from basic food prep to manning a cash register.
In the year since Liberty’s Kitchen opened on Broad Street, there have been some exciting developments. In April, Liberty’s Kitchen received $1.2 million in additional funding from Baptist Community Ministries, the Methodist Health System Foundation, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, allowing them to advance their cause and offer training for more students. Local individuals have also invested in Liberty’s Kitchen. During the recent Millennial Awards, donations to Liberty’s Kitchen and two other non-profits were encouraged at the door in lieu of an admission fee. Every dollar donated went to helping local youth who are out of school and out work achieve self-sufficiency and employability.
Youth job training for New Orleans’ vast and rich culinary industry is an incredible idea that’s proven successful. It makes perfect sense for a job training program to partner with its city’s largest industry, provide participants with a rewarding and accessible career path immediately upon graduating. NEW ORLEANS WILL support Liberty’s Kitchen’s recipe for success and keep going back for seconds.
Liberty’s Kitchen, located at 300 N. Broad Street, is open for breakfast and lunch on Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and for breakfast and coffee on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. www.libertyskitchen.org