Foodlink Career Fellowship
We create pathways to prosperity for individuals with barriers to sustainable employment.
Foodlink’s one-of-a-kind culinary training program prepares people for middle-skills careers with a living wage in the regional food industry, and increases the self-sufficiency, well-being and food security of our Fellows.
The Foodlink Career Fellowship offers an intensive, yearlong culinary curriculum that includes both classroom and hands-on training within Foodlink’s state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. Fellows play an integral role alongside the Foodlink Community Kitchen’s staff in preparing thousands of healthy meals daily for Rochester children, all while increasing the core competencies needed to work in a high-paced kitchen environment.
Fellows also learn culinary skills via Rouxbe, a world-renowned online culinary training software, and work on essential soft skills development to prepare them for future job opportunities. The final months of the program are spent at an externship with a regional employer.
The Fellowship is an official New York State Registered Apprenticeship Training program — the first such cook apprenticeship in the state. In 2020, it was awarded nearly $1 million in NYS Workforce Development Initiative funding to sustain future cohorts.
Pre-Apprenticeship (months 1-3)
- Focus on fundamental soft skills
- Basic Food Safety – ServSafe Handler Certification, Level 2
- Certification in CPR/ First Aid, Forklift Training
- Introduction to Culinary Math/Cooking/Nutrition
Apprenticeship (months 4-9)
- Introduction to leadership skills & enhanced soft skills
- Foundation for career growth: networking, mentorship and financial literacy
- ROUXBE Professional Culinary Foundations, Levels 1 & 2
- Specialized industry training (e.g. allergen certification)
- ServSafe certification, Level 1
Externship (months 10-12)
- Work with a mentor in regional food establishment, (executive chef or sous chef)
- Apply on-the-job training and soft skills with ancillary apprenticeship sponsor
- Finalize a professional portfolio
- Interview for full-time job
- The inaugural class of 2019 celebrated the program’s first graduation at the Rochester Public Market. Eight Fellows moved on to careers at Wegmans, local restaurants and colleges.
- The inaugural class graduated with an average starting wage of $14.22 — more than $3 above the state’s minimum wage.
- Only 40% of the members of the inaugural class reported being food secure when they began the program. Upon graduation, 100% said they were food secure.
- The 2019 graduating class also reported healthier eating habits, having consumed — on average — twice as much fruits and vegetables per day, and significantly less sugar-sweetened beverages.
Foodlink could not have built this program without input, support and guidance from regional employers, our nominating partners, and, of course, the bold funders who took a chance on this initiative.
Employers such as Wegmans Food Markets were critical to our early success. Other employers such as the Kelaron Group, Palmer Food Service, LiDestri Foods, Barilla, Monroe Community College, and the University of Rochester all helped shape the curriculum to address the workforce needs of the Finger Lakes region. We also leaned on the national expertise of our friends at Catalyst Kitchens, which supports nonprofits that provide pathways to jobs through a foodservice job-training model.
The pilot year of the program was made possible through the financial contributions of three major funders: The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, William and Sheila Konar Foundation, and ESL Charitable Foundation. The William and Sheila Konar Foundation also awarded Foodlink a second year of funding to support the Class of 2020.
The Foodlink Career Fellowship accepts applicants through a nomination process from mentors and local community-based organizations.
If you represent would like to recommend an applicant for a future class set to begin in 2021, please fill out this form and someone from our team will be in touch.
We will update our website with more information about recruitment for the Class of 2022 at a later date. Thank you!