January 2013 marks the launch of the groundbreaking program, Soups and Sweets. The Soups and Sweets program is a collaboration of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) Special Needs Department and Congregation Beth El. Soups and Sweets is a food service training program designed to provide young adults with special needs an opportunity to gain transferrable culinary skills. The classes will take place at the Congregation Beth El Kitchen, with instruction by Chef Louis Ruttenberg…
The overall goal of the “Soups and Sweets” Program is to increase paid employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. JFCS is a Supported Employment Vendor with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Through the years, JFCS has provided employment support to many individuals pursuing employment in the food services industry. Unfortunately, there are limited training opportunities in Southern New Jersey for employment in this field.
The “Soups and Sweets” Program will address this deficiency by establishing a curriculum whereby trainees work towards developing and attaining specific food service competencies.
Program participants will learn how to work in a kitchen and prepare a variety of soups and desserts, which will be sold to customers of the existing JFCS Meals-on-Wheels Program. Participants will procure ingredients, prepare and package the soups and desserts, learn to safely use kitchen utensils and equipment, and be responsible for the maintenance and clean up of the kitchen. Soups and Sweets participants will also learn administrative skills, such as keeping track of orders and deliveries, sending invoices to senior clients, coordinating with the senior services department, and assessing ongoing needs for ingredients and supplies.
The Soups and Sweets program, supported with funding from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD) and the Wright Cook Foundation, will begin as a pilot program, with eight interns. Each intern will complete 200 training hours. The training of participants will take place two times per week, for four hours per day. At the completion of the training program, which is expected to take approximately six months, participants will receive a certificate indicating that they have mastered specific competencies. JFCS will then assist participants with job placement in the food service industry.
JFCS has been providing a Kosher Meals-on-Wheels food delivery service for over 16 years to individuals receiving services through the JFCS Senior Services Department. Those meals, which are prepared by a caterer, are frozen and consist of a complete dinner. This past year, JFCS delivered over 8,000 meals to its clients. Frequently, meal recipients request that soup and dessert be included as part of the meal they receive, and it is these requests that have provided the impetus for the development of the “Soups and Sweets” Program.
After completion of this program, individuals will have obtained food service skills, and will be more marketable for employment in restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, and healthcare kitchens. To become involved in the Soups and Sweets Program, please contact Jewish Family & Children’s Service by calling 856-424-1333 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.