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The Ottawa Mission’s Food Services Training Program is marking its tenth anniversary this year. The 5 month program helps men and women on social services get job skills by working alongside our trained kitchen staff and dedicated volunteers. They also spend one day a week in a classroom learning from a college culinary textbook and take courses in Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, health and safety and the City of Ottawa’s Food Handler’s Certification.

It’s a program that has touched many lives, with 75 people successfully completing it in the past decade.

This week, about 80 supporters of the program gathered in the Mission’s dining room one evening to sample a fabulous dinner prepared by the latest graduates, Alex, Elaine and Dale.  The first annual Food Services Training Program Gala Evening was a huge success. The crowd was especially touched when one of the students, Alex, shared how he had lost everything to addiction. After going through treatment successfully, Alex came to the Mission hoping to get new a new start and a new career. He’s now working full time as a cook and couldn’t be happier, adding he’s always smiling when he’s cooking.

Chef Ric Watson, who was instrumental in starting the Food Services training program a decade ago, says there’s much more involved than just teaching people to cook. In his words, “this program builds self-esteem and confidence, which are fundamental to success in any career.”

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