Recipe for Success Culinary Job Training Program - NEW HAMPSHIRE State Prize

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Recipe for Success Culinary Job Training Program - NEW HAMPSHIRE State Prize

United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The goal of the Recipe for Success Culinary Job Training program is to help unemployed/underemployed people gain the skills and experience necessary to seek employment in the food service industry, rescue quality food from entering the waste stream, and provide prepared meals to thousands of needy people in NH.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Recipe for Success Program addresses three key issues: 1. Lack of job training opportunities for unemployed/underemployed adults, 2. Food insecurity experienced by thousands of families and individuals in New Hampshire 3. Loss of usable, high quality food that enters the waste stream. The primary goal of the program is to address the need and desire that unskilled workers have to secure skills that can lead to higher paying jobs. As a result of the work by program trainees, RFS is able to distribute a larger volume of healthy and wholesome food to low income communities in New Hampshire. By rescuing and using food that is safe and wholesome, we are able to provide a unique training experience for our students while feeding people who live with hunger.
About You
New Hampshire Food Bank
Section 1: You
First Name


Last Name



New Hampshire Food Bank


, NH

Section 2: Your Organization
Organization Name

New Hampshire Food Bank

Organization Phone


Organization Address

62 West Brook Street, Manchester, NH 03101

Organization Country

, NH

Your idea
Country and state your work focuses on

, NH

What makes your idea unique?

The Recipe for Success Culinary Job Training Program (RFS) at New Hampshire Food Bank is unique and innovative because it serves the community in four distinct ways.

1. It provides job training for unemployed/underemployed adults who do not have skills to secure living wages. In addition to their knife and commercial cooking skills, students in the program learn basic life skills that instill the confidence they need to conduct a job search, and manage their personal health and finances.

2. It is a positive solution to hunger because it offers prepared foods for agencies experiencing staffing challenges. Through the hands-on, daily work of RFS, at least 100 meals per day are produced and provided for the Manchester Boys & Girls Club, serving hundreds of children in need every week. In addition, the Recipe for Success trainees produce thousands of meals in bulk to be frozen and distributed through our 412 registered agencies.

3. RFS utilizes high quality food that might otherwise be wasted as it approaches its use-by date. We rely largely on donated ingredients to prepare our meals and this expands the students’ experience to be flexible in a fast paced work environment.

4. The program is a service to local small businesses because it provides a screened, trained and skilled labor force to the local food service industry. RFS offers limited catering services as a way to give trainees additional experience, engage them in public presentation of their skills, and help earn funds to support the program.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

What impact have you had?

The RFS program utilizes several metrics to determine its outcomes. We evaluate our graduation rate, ServSafe pass rate and our placement rate when possible. We do not guarantee jobs, however, we make every attempt to assist in the process and follow the progress of our graduates. We graduate between 40 and 50 students a year from the training program. In 2008, our first year of operation we graduated 19 students and in 2009, we graduated 53 students. We estimate our current job placement rate at 64%. Prior to the marked deepening of the recession in December, 2008, we had a higher placement rate, and we expect that when the job market recovers it will again increase.

We teach safe food handling and all students take the managers’ level National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Examination. We had a 91% pass rate in 2009.

In 2009 the New Hampshire Food Bank recovered over 200,000 lbs of meat that would have otherwise been wasted. The culinary program created meals with over 8,000 lbs of rescued meat and the remainder was distributed frozen to NHFB member agencies. The recovery provides the kitchen with all of the high quality protein needed to make meals, and also prevents food from entering the waste stream.

In 2008, RFS served 7,960 meals to needy children at the Manchester Boys and Girls Club. In 2009, RFS served a total of 29,872 meals – 19,088 to the Manchester Boys and Girls Club and 10,784 to other agencies.


RFS has been in operation for two years and we are in the process of evaluating all aspects of the operation so that we can continue to be successful during these challenging economic times. Building and maintaining strong community partnerships and relationships are the key to our success. Our Development Team and our Recipe for Success staff are out in the community serving on committees, speaking to groups and working with partners who can help us with donations of food, equipment and cash to assist us in meeting the operations needs of the program.

We seek in-kind donations of products and services that will aid us in sustaining the operations of the program. We secured grants to ensure programming needs were met during the first two years of operation. Small scale catering sustains a small portion of the program, and offers an opportunity for earned income growth.


We expect continued support from our community partners, local foundations, and grant making organizations who donate the food we use in the program. We also anticipate continued support from the company that provides our linen and laundry services. Together these community partnerships provide savings of over $20,000 per year. We will continue to apply for grant, sponsorship, and underwriting funding for student expenses. We project the catering services to grow appropriately and provide additional revenue of approximately $10,000 per year.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Over the next three years we hope to double the program from 40-50 graduates a year to 80-100. As the economy recovers we hope to see the placement rate increase to 80%.

Our program of work for FY 2011 (April 1, 2010 – March 30, 2011) projects level programming, which includes graduating 40-50 individuals. We plan to apply for Workforce Investment Act training funds which may bring in an additional $35,000 - $50,000 per year. It is critical that the food donations and linen service continue. The budget for FY 2010 was $242,000.

Prior to budget development for FY 2012 (April 1, 2011 – March 30, 2012) we will assess the economic recovery and the commitment from our current community partners. If salaries are secured we will evaluate the landscape to begin expanding the size of the program. This will, however, require a second or per diem Chef Instructor which will increase operational costs. A larger class size, or more training classes per year will increase our capacity to provide more catering services as one avenue to sustain the program.

If the economic climate in FY12 cannot support doubling the program we will assess prior to FY 13 budget development and manage growth until the economy can support expansion.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

The Recipe for Success Culinary Job Training Program at the New Hampshire Food Bank has been in operation since May, 2008 and has graduated 82 individuals since its inception. We have met our goals to graduate 40-50 students per year and we have a steady stream of applicants to the program and enjoy a strong reputation with social service agencies within the greater Manchester area whose caseworkers also refer applicants to the program.

Secure funding and in-kind support from private donors, the local business community and charitable organizations is crucial for the success of running the program. A prolonged recession will impact job opportunities for certain food service positions, however, a unique characteristic of the RFS program is the ability to respond to fluctuations in the industry. For example, if restaurants started closing and limited hiring, we would steer more of our students to long term healthcare positions.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

In what country?

, NH

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

The New Hampshire Food Bank

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

We work with 412 agencies across the state through our food distribution network to reach those in need of food assistance. We also partner with Southern NH University and University of NH, on multiple projects.

We have over 50 dedicated partnerships with business across the state. These non-monetary partnerships include food donation from grocers such as Stop n Shop, Hannaford, and Shaw’s (grocery reclamation and meat recovery), food drives and volunteers from Riverstone, Comcast, the Manchester Monarchs. Subcommittee work includes volunteers from our advisory board; St. Mary’s Bank, Shaw’s, Minuteman Medical. Media relationships include: WMUR, Manchester Union Leader, WOQK, WGIR.

Having direct access to business leaders helps us in our strategic process as we develop new program initiatives. They help us craft business models and measurable outcomes. The media helps us educate the public and make the community aware of systemic issues around hunger and our opportunities to address them.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1. Completion of a successful move to a different, larger, more efficient facility. The success of the New Hampshire Food Bank and RFS programs, coupled with the increased need for providing food security to hungry people across the state, strains the capacity of the current building and therefore limits the organization’s capacity to provide service. Last year, NHFB distributed more than 6 million pounds of food, and still had unmet demand. The new facility will enable NHFB to grow and distribute more than 10 million pounds of food annually.

2. Increase the size of the RFS culinary training kitchen. This is planned as part of the expanded new facility, and will allow the RFS Culinary Job Training Program to meet its goal of doubling the size of the program over the next three years. In addition to growing the initiative to serve more individuals with job training, the resulting meal production from the kitchen would also grow significantly. This would enable NHFB to rescue and process a far greater quantity of food that may have gone into the waste stream, and distribute more prepared meals through member agencies.

3. Implement and complete a successful Capital Campaign to bring about the above actions. The New Hampshire Food Bank is in the early stages of this campaign.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Two years ago, NHFB saw dramatic changes to the inventory management of our grocery partners. Most of them moved to a “point-of sale” or “just in time” inventory system, resulting in a significant decrease in the amount of food we were receiving from the grocery industry. We literally went from 3 tractor- trailer loads of reclamation (or grocery salvage) a month down to one. A truckload of salvage represents about 25,000 lbs of food. In addition, being in what is considered a “food poor environment” - meaning that we do not have direct access to food distributors and manufacturers in the area (the Kraft Foods General Mills, etc) - forced us to think about what other untapped resources we might be able to recover to make up for this loss.

Seeing the decrease in supply, coupled with an increase in demand, led us to developing the Recipe for Success Culinary Training program. We believed that a culinary training program would help accomplish our mission in a number of unique and interconnected ways:

1. A culinary training program would help address one of the underlying causes of food insecurity – lack of employment/underemployment due to lack of marketable skills. We would be able to target people in need from the local community, and provide them with training and skills needed to seek employment in the food industry and become more self-sufficient.
2. Having groups of culinary trainees working at NHFB would provide a previously unavailable resource for processing and preparing perishable vegetables and meat. Prior to this, NHFB lacked the capacity to effectively handle these perishable foods (Fresh Rescue), which could now be used to help fill the food gap left by reduced supply of reclamation from grocery partners.
3. The Fresh Rescue foods provide some of the stock needed for use in the training kitchen. The foods/meals prepared by the Recipe for Success culinary trainees could then be distributed to meet the direct food needs of our partner agencies. Some of the meals (about 100 meals/day) are distributed to food-insecure children at the Manchester Boys and Girls. Other meals are prepared, frozen, and distributed to people across the state of NH by our 412 member agencies.
4. A small catering service was also developed to improve students’ public presentation and higher-end food production skills, while generating a small amount of earned income to support the program.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

There is no single person/social innovator responsible for this program. It was truly a team effort of the entire New Hampshire Food Bank staff and Advisory Board. In many ways, each and every staff and Advisory Committee member for the New Hampshire Food Bank is a Social Innovator.

As part of regular strategy and program improvement work, NHFB staff and board continually assess the various functions of the Food Bank operation. We know that are always things we can do to be more efficient, to reach new audiences in need of our services, and to raise people in need to greater self-sufficiency. When challenging issues arise, such as the significant decline of grocery reclamation supply, staff and board are intentional about presenting and evaluating ideas and options, and deciding which would be most feasible and impactful.
All NHFB staff members are committed strongly to the mission of the organization to feed hungry people by soliciting and effectively distributing grocery products, perishable foods, and services through a statewide network of approved agencies; by advocating for systemic change; and by educating the public about the nature of, and solutions to, problems of hunger in New Hampshire.

The NHFB Advisory Board is an excellent and dedicated group of volunteers representing local and regional grocery stores, media outlets, and the business community. In addition to serving in an advisory and guidance capacity, members of the board represent the New Hampshire Food Bank to constituents in their local communities as well as across the state. Their creative support is critical to the success of the organization and to this project.

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