For graduates like Ximenio, Chicago's Community Kitchens provided critical training for a new career.

Ximenio Gray couldn’t afford college. He considered joining the army but applied for the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s foodservice job training program, Chicago’s Community Kitchens, instead. After graduating from the program, Ximenio received a full-time job at Harold Richards High School. The program changed his life.

Without the support of incredible donors willing to invest in Chicago’s Community Kitchens, people like Ximenio wouldn’t receive the training they need to help change their lives. And that’s been the case for the last 20 years.

"This program does more than teach students to cook, it teaches people to recognize their potential and their value.”

Chef Quantrell Taylor, Chicago's Community Kitchens manager of production and catering

A Chicago's Community Kitchens student in the kitchen

Since its launch, more than 1,200 students have graduated from the program.

“To say that the program is ‘worth the effort’ is nothing short of an understatement,” Ximenio said. “There is never a moment when I am not applying what I learned at Chicago’s Community Kitchens to my job.”

While the program prepares students for the food industry, that preparation goes beyond training students to cook. Students also learn culinary math and sanitation skills, along with how to write a resume and succeed in a job interview.

“The labor market is different nowadays,” said Nicole Robinson, Food Depository vice president of community impact. “We offer more than just a job, we offer the start of a career.”

With help from our supporters, we were able to connect 90 percent of program graduates with employment.