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FF: Community Foodbank of NJ

On Sunday, March 1, we will welcome Chef Daryl Walker for our Faith Forward.

Community FoodBank of New Jersey

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is the largest anti-hunger organization in New Jersey. Each year the FoodBank distributes the equivalent of 50 meals meals. 25% of the food distributed is fresh fruits and vegetables.

Food Service Training Academy (FSTA) The FSTA is a free, 15-week intensive culinary and life skills program that provides students with the foundation for a better life and teaches them about communication, nutrition and healthy cooking. Geared toward the working poor, the FSTA program has graduated more than 2,500 students since its inception in 2000. Within three months of graduating, more than 90% of the students have procured full-time employment.

Daryl Walker  “I started selling drugs at a young age so I could buy food,” said Daryl. “I didn’t know anything else.”  His family struggled financially, so he turned to the tough streets of New Brunswick to provide for himself. He was in and out of jail, with no end in sight – until he decided to set an example for his kids. While in a halfway house, Daryl learned about the Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s free culinary job-training program and enrolled. “I made it here, so I decided to put all my energy into the program to turn my life around,” Daryl said. “It paid off. I graduated at the top of the class.”After graduation, Daryl worked at the FoodBank as a culinary apprentice for 18 months. “It gave me an opportunity to learn about the program and the culinary field so I could make it in the real world,” he explained. The FoodBank team helped him find a job to gain more experience; Daryl prepared meals for clients at Eva’s Village in Paterson for almost two years. Now he’s back at the FoodBank, working as a production manager. In his role, he prepares meals for several nutrition programs including Kids Cafes, which serve nourishing after-school meals to children at risk of hunger. He also mentors Food Service Training Academy students, many of whom can relate to his life journey. “I’m showing them that they’ve got a chance,” he told us. “They don’t have to stay in the lane they’re in. They can make a positive change like I did.” “This program ultimately changed my life,” Daryl said. “This is one thing I really love to do. If this wouldn’t have worked for me, I would probably be back out in the streets.”

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