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JBF Awards 2011: Humanitarian of the Year: FareStart

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Published on May 8, 2011

JBF Awards 2011 Humanitarian of the Year: FareStart

FareStart provides a community that transforms lives by empowering homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and families to achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training and employment in the food service industry. The company was founded by David Lee, a chef and entrepreneur, who in 1988 recognized the need to provide Seattle's disadvantaged and homeless populations with healthy and nutritious food. David first launched a for-profit business called Common Meals, and in 1992, after years of working out of small church kitchens, found a kitchen large enough to meet his needs and the needs of the growing homeless population. There, he began to train the very people he was serving, providing homeless individuals with the opportunity to work and to contribute to their own community and FareStart was born.

FareStart, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit company, has established a variety of training programs that provide invaluable lessons and educational resources to the local population. The Adult Culinary Job Training and Placement Program provides a free 16-week course that includes culinary training, counseling, life-skills classes, housing, food and clothing. Students have the opportunity to give back, beginning their first day by preparing food that's delivered to local homeless shelters and low-income daycare centers. FareStart's Graduate Support Services program provides ongoing guidance to adult graduates, including health care assistance, housing, counseling and job searches to help individuals move forward to self-sufficiency. Through a collaborative effort with YouthCare, a Seattle organization dedicated to ending youth homelessness, FareStart launched its Youth Barista Training and Education Program in 2003, offering runaway, homeless and street youth ages 16--23 with on-the-job training, life skills classes, counseling and the opportunity to build a better future for themselves. On a national scale, FareStart established Catalyst Kitchens in 2010, working with a network of 125 nonprofit companies and partner organizations across the nation to help develop their programming, finding solutions to unemployment and food scarcity. In addition, FareStart's own businesses have helped to generate over half of the organization's annual operating revenue. Some of these ventures include Guest Chef Night, during which premier local chefs work with FareStart students to create a gourmet meal at FareStart's on-site restaurant, with revenue and gratuities directly benefitting the training program. The FareStart Café @ 2100 is the on-the-job training site for the youth program and is open to the public, while FareStart Catering offers services for a variety of occasions and FareStart Contract Meals provides 2,080 meals daily to childcare centers, homeless shelters and seniors.

Over the past 19 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 5,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 4.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children. In 2010 alone, FareStart provided training opportunities to over 260 people, provided referral services to over 700 homeless individuals, graduated more than 130 individuals and at the same time increased business sales by 10%. More importantly, FareStart's graduates are getting hired and continuing their education, and last year, over 80% of adult graduates secured employment while 80% of youth graduates either gained employment or went back to school. 2011 sees FareStart launching several initiatives to further raise awareness and meet the growing needs of the community, continuing to create countless opportunities and impact thousands of lives for the better.

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