When we say “Eat Well, Do Good”, we really mean it!
When you patronize one of our two cafes, take a cooking class, or become a catering customer, you are directly supporting the on the job training we do at the Kitchen.
We operate a paid on-the-job work experience embedded in the catering and café operations at The Kitchen Café at Billings Forge.
If you are a potential employer, please contact us to talk about how we can teach our trainees the skills which you specifically require.
Hartford’s challenge is the mismatch between jobs available in the region—where 33% jobs are low skill—and the education of the city’s population, where only 85% of residents age 25 or over have a less than a bachelor’s degree and a remarkable 30% have less than a high school degree. Eighty thousand people commute into the city every day for work, yet Hartford’s unemployment rate is nearly double the statewide rate. In tandem with high unemployment and low education levels, Hartford residents face high levels of poverty (33% of residents). A disproportionate number of former prisoners are released to Hartford, where they often remain and face high barriers to employment.
Our job training programs seek to provide a leg up for our neighbors who face these multiple challenges by creating access to true, attainable employment. We create a real on the job training experience for individuals interested in both culinary and customer service careers. Unlike many other programs, our training is tangible, conducted by culinary professionals with deep experience in the field. We build meaningful relationships with committed and willing employers. We work side by side with our trainees, creating the food our customers enjoy together. At any given time, 4 – 6 of the hard working people you see at our cafes are job trainees.
Because of our work, almost 100 folks so far have started the training and, within eight weeks of completing the program, 75% went directly to jobs with starting wages averaging 119% of minimum wage. Our sustainable businesses also create job opportunities for our neighbors. Of our almost 20 culinary Kitchen employees, 45% are from the neighborhood, where jobs are particularly scarce.
Another way to support all of our programs is to patronize Firebox Restaurant. As they share on their own website:
“Our story is as unique as our food. We are proud to be recognized for our creative, locally sourced cuisine but, did you know that when you dine with us, you are directly supporting our community? Since our founding in 2007 by the Melville Charitable Trust, our commitment has always been to serve extraordinary food and to bring jobs, investment, and opportunity to Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood. Our profits support Billings Forge Community Works, a driving force for community participation and empowerment. Thank you for dining with us and supporting our mission.”
So enjoy our food, knowing what every purchase you make means to our community.