SEATTLE — FareStart is the winner of Best Non-Profit in 2020's Best of the Best.
Laura McConnelly's life was transformed when she attended culinary classes at Seattle non-profit FareStart:
“I got myself into some trouble and got to restart my life and figure out what it was I want to do FareStart give me a chance.”
After graduating from the culinary arts program at FareStart, which is aimed at helping people with barriers to employment get the skills they need for a career in the food industry, McConnelly found a job at a well-known Seattle fine dining restaurant. But she really wanted to work at FareStart – now she's back, as a Chef Instructor, but right now she’s helping make meals for those who desperately need them right now.
McConnell returned a few years ago, but recently, FareStart has hired over a dozen program graduates who lost their restaurant jobs because of the pandemic. Executive Chef Wayne Johnson says it's always emotional when a grad returns to the place that launched them.
“Oh the feeling, when they walk back into this kitchen, it’s like full circle for them, feeling ‘now I'm feeding and I'm supporting people that were in my situation.’ It just lifted up the whole energy in this building,” said Johnson.
That energy is much needed - FareStart has turned all of its focus to feeding people in need during this pandemic - so far, they've delivered one point five million free meals since March.
Of course, their restaurants, their popular Guest Chef Night and their catering services are temporarily suspended because of COVID 19. But raw ingredients keep coming in...
“I think they said we were getting 500 lbs of squash yesterday,” laughed Chef Johnson.
..and the cooks in these kitchens are working harder than ever turning every bit of the food that comes in the door into delicious fare that goes out the door, and straight to people in need.
As the pandemic continues to impact lives, FareStart's one point five million count will continue to grow as they continue to nourish this community - one meal at a time.
“What we do here is transform lives, disrupt poverty and nourish our community that's the mission,” said Chef Johnson. “Nothing’s changed with that, it's just gotten really big!”