Homelessness is a huge issue throughout North America, with hundreds of thousands living on the streets. Walk down the sidewalk in any large city and you’ll see them, wrapped in their tattered sleeping bags or blankets, huddled under an awning to stay out of the rain, with only the sidewalk as their pillow. If you’re like me, you pass them with a feeling of hopelessness, wishing you could help but feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issue. While there are many contributing factors to the problem—such as mental illness, addiction, domestic violence and unexpected financial hardship—the one thing experienced by everyone on the streets is a lack of connection to a support system, whether it be family, friends or whomever.
In an effort to find a long-term solution to this problem, Seattle’s FareStart organization has a vision to “empower lives through food-service job training and to nourish bodies and minds through quality food-service.” The goal of the organization is to not only offer training and skills to its students, which will allow them to become self-sustaining, but to create a supportive community for everyone involved.
The FareStart Adult Culinary Program is a 16-week intensive training program that combines hands-on food-service training with classroom instruction and job placement services. The program not only trains people for jobs in the food and hospitality industry but helps them keep those jobs. They also offer an eight-week Youth Barista Training Program.
The FareStart restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday, and for dinner every Thursday night. Thursday night is Guest Chef Night, where the students have the opportunity to work with one of Seattle’s premier chefs while preparing a three-course meal. A special part of the evening every week is student graduation. As the program has continuous enrollment, there are generally an average of three students a week graduating. They are introduced to the diners so that their accomplishments can be celebrated by all.
As those who have traveled with WanderTours overseas know, we try and give back to the community, wherever we go. Supporting FareStart is an excellent way for us to make a difference in Beth’s home town of Seattle. We’ve added dinner at FareStart to our 2015 Seattle Culinary tour and our tour participants are going to enjoy a wonderful meal while knowing that they’re helping support such a worthy cause.