Farestart, the nonprofit that offers food service job training to people struggling with poverty, addiction, homelessness, or a criminal record, just got a major donation from Amazon. The company has gifted the charity with space and equipment to launch a new apprenticeship program to help low-wage food service workers attain higher-earning positions.
The donation will also allow Farestart to open five new cafe/restaurant locations in Seattle, significantly expanding the charity’s training model. It’s a particularly poignant time for such a donation from such a company, considering the current conversations the city is having around affordability.
Farestart’s highly respected program currently operates two cafes and one full-service restaurant, all of which are open to the public. The charity also operates a popular Guest Chef Night, a weekly fundraising event that features a different guest chef each time preparing a three-course meal with Farestart-student assistance.
“Amazon has been a longtime FareStart supporter, and the opportunity to partner with them on this project could not have come at a better time for our community,” FareStart CEO Megan Karch said in a statement. “Poverty and income inequality are growing in Seattle. Meanwhile, the foodservice industry is experiencing a shortage of chefs and other staff in higher wage positions. Amazon’s generous support will help us train more people to fill those vacant positions.”
The donation from Amazon includes more than 25,000 square feet for a new full service restaurant, three fast-casual cafes, a coffee shop, a catering venue, and training classrooms. As with the current three restaurants, the new restaurants will be open to the public. Expect the openings in late summer.
The partnership will also enable Farestart to launch a new paid apprenticeship program for low-income workers to move up the ladder, obtaining higher income positions like line cooks, line leads, sous chefs, supervisors, and managers.
The Amazon donation won’t cover all of Farestart’s costs, so the nonprofit is also launching a fundraising campaign to raise the estimated $6 million needed to fund operating expenses and capacity building. That is expected to roll out “in the coming months.”