Local Treasures with Pia: Hope House Hospitality to teach restaurant skills

Spokane, Washington – One of the most difficult things when transitioning out of homelessness is finding employment. Living on the street often goes hand in hand with being unemployed and applying for jobs or getting basic training for entry level positions can be very difficult.

That’s why Hope House – which recently received grant funding from the Avista Foundation – is putting together a pilot program called Hope House Hospitality that will teach shelter residents basic food handling skills and make sure they get a food handlers permit.

“We are trying to set up a smaller program that teaches basic kitchen skills and also basic life skills,” said Beth McRae, Director of Development, Hope House Women’s Shelter which is operated by Volunteers of America. “If you are generationally homeless, chances are you never really learned how to cook.”

Participants will get help with the food handlers permit application in the computer lab at Hope House, and then learn basic kitchen skills such as using a commercial dishwasher, how to chop vegetables properly, and how to prep and store food appropriately.

“Food handling skills are also life skills,” said McRae. “But the goal of this program is to help women get jobs in the food service industry.”

When shelter residents move into apartments, food skills are crucial for a successful transition. Donated food boxes typically hold a limited number of ingredients, and without a stocked pantry it can be difficult to make dinner.

“It can feel a little bit like being on the food program ‘Chopped’,” said McRae, who has a background in the restaurant business. “You never really know what you are going to get and how you can best use it to make dinner.”

Hope House Hospitality will help homeless women hone both their self-preservation skills and their work skills.

“We are still pulling some funds together before we can really get started,” McRae said. “For now we have invested in pots and pans and measuring cups – we just need a little more funding to get started.”

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $13 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit avistafoundation.com.

To learn more about Hope House and the needs of the new pilot program, visit them online.

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