The Westside of Atlanta is considered the most impoverished, dangerous area in the city, plagued with homelessness, joblessness, addiction, and overall lack of opportunity. Through the partnership with The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Atlanta Falcons, and support of Levy, I was given the incredible task of creating what is now the Levy Culinary Academy.
Through the Academy, we provide practical culinary training to residents of the neighborhood that gives each student the foundation to be a culinary professional: knife skills, the importance of mise en place, equipment and food identification, and so much more.
Initially, the program was housed at a homeless shelter on the Westside, which allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and community of our students. Due to the success of the program, we were able to relocate to The Georgia Dome, which allows more students to attend the 8-week course, more space and equipment, as well as the support of the Levy Culinary Team.
The success of the program can be attributed to the very intense, practical approach taken in preparing each student for success in the culinary industry. I am especially proud to see some of the individuals we work with join the Levy family, and with the new Falcons Stadium on the horizon, there will be more opportunities than ever.
I am grateful to Levy for allowing me the opportunity and support to run this program, which has proven to change the lives of our graduates and their families. I can’t take credit for the students’ success, as this job training program would not be possible without Levy. My long-term goal is to share this educational model with additional Levy properties to relay the wonderful outcomes that are made possible with the support of a company that cares.