Spectrum donation provides virtual learning opportunities for Foodlink Fellows

In a year of increased dependency on technology and remote learning, Spectrum’s recent donation to Foodlink meant the world to a group of aspiring chefs.

Participants in the Foodlink Career Fellowship, a yearlong culinary training program and state-registered cook apprenticeship, were able to continue their progress toward their career goals thanks to the generosity of Spectrum’s $5,000 donation for the purchase of new laptops. While most of the Fellows’ training takes place daily within the Foodlink Community Kitchen, the laptops allowed Fellows to complete online coursework and stay in touch with one another at home when needed.

“The Fellowship program had to pivot during the pandemic to not only assist our kitchen with an increased demand for meals for local students, but also to provide flexible learning environments for our Fellows,” said Jes Scannell, Director of Career Empowerment Initiatives. “This donation gave us that flexibility so they could continue to learn, thrive and serve our community.”

Foodlink’s newest workforce development initiative began in 2018 and has ushered through two graduating classes, with the third class about halfway through the program. It accepts nominations from community partners that work with individuals who have experienced barriers to sustainable employment. The Fellowship’s fourth class will launch this summer.

“Spectrum is proud to lend support to organizations, like Foodlink, in helping to fund its Career Fellowship culinary program for the purchase of devices for program participants to continue their learning at home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Camille Joseph, Group Vice President, State Government Affairs for Charter Communications. “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. We support this tremendous effort as Spectrum is committed to investing and improving the communities where our customers and employees live and work across America.”

Members of the past two classes have been on the frontlines of Foodlink’s pandemic response. School closures and remote learning have forced many students in Rochester, one of the poorest cities in the nation, to miss critical school meals. Since mid-March of last year, Foodlink’s kitchen has prepared more than 850,000 meals for local students to help fill this nutritional gap.

Joshua Orsini is one of the Fellows who received a laptop, which helped him stay on top of his coursework in Rouxbe, the online training tool used by the Fellows. The laptop allowed him to work from home instead of travelling to the library.

“It helped with Zoom meetings with the other Fellows, staying organized, and gave me the opportunity to participate as a guest chef with our nutrition education team’s virtual cooking classes,” Orsini said.

Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren lauded the donation and collaboration between community partners.

“Achieving equity and equal opportunity is essential to the future of Rochester,” Warren said. “The Foodlink Career Fellowship culinary program is an important effort toward this goal. I’m excited that Charter is stepping up to help our residents succeed. It takes our businesses, non-profits and government working together to deliver more jobs, safer more vibrant neighborhoods and greater educational opportunities. Most importantly, I’m proud of our students and graduates putting in the work to gain new skills and advance their careers. Our city is excited to see what you do next!”

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