Who handed you your coffee this morning? Where did the eggs in your omelette come from? Do you know how that applesauce in your kid’s lunch was made? What about the sandwich you picked up for lunch? The more important question is do you care?
You should and here’s why: many business are skewed towards hiring with a stigma. That often leaves untapped talent on the table. I worked in the restaurant and service industry for more than a decade, and I know which resumes end up in which pile. Companies are rarely willing to take a chance on an individual who might not have the right credentials. But they were most likely never given the opportunity to add those bullet points to their resume to begin with. One organization in Rhode Island is working to change that.
Since 2010 Farm Fresh RI's Harvest Kitchen Project has been a place where the youth transform the harvest and the harvest transforms them. They take at risk youth on probation or aging out of foster care and give them an opportunity that not everyone gets. Over 20 weeks, the youth in the program are mentored and shown how to deal with the trials that adult life throws at all of us. Life skills that no one bothered to offer them before now. After the training wraps, opportunities open up for many, connecting them with like-minded chefs or being brought on as employees of Harvest Kitchen itself either at the farmer’s markets or at their location on 2 Bayley Street in Pawtucket.
Helping the youth of Rhode Island isn’t the only second chance Farm Fresh is giving out here. They are also reducing food waste from local farms by purchasing their overproduction or bruised products. After taking those secondary pieces of fruits or veggies, the youth of Harvest Kitchen turn the otherwise discarded produce into applesauce, stewed tomatoes, bread and butter pickled squash, peach slices, and more. After that, they’re sent to farmer’s markets, wholesale for restaurants, or sold in bulk to schools and hospitals.
In addition to increasing the number of youths they are able to bring on as employees, they are also looking to increase their grocery selection at the 2 Bayley Street location. For those who don’t make it to this historic area of Pawtucket much, it is in desperate need of a place like this. Just down the street from The Guild, this location gives residents a much needed, and much healthier, option for their shopping. Currently you can find a variety of RI produce, milk, and from scratch prepared foods. Not only that, they also carry local honey, grain and flour from Maine, New Harvest Coffee Roasters, Providence Bagels, Narragansett Creamery, and hot soups always on tap. So if you can’t make it to your local farmer’s market, this is the place to go to!
You can find cooking demos every friday from 11AM to 1PM and other events which you find through their social media, @HarvestKitchenRI. Meanwhile regular business hours at the Bayley Street location are Monday through Friday, 7AM to 5PM, and Saturday from 9AM to 3PM.
For more info, make sure to check out their website at farmfreshri.org/about/harvestkitchen.php.
Thanks for reading!
+ Colin Carlton
Colin is a local author and freelance writer.
For more from him, please check out:
@colincarlton on Twitter + Instagram
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Photo Credits: All photos of Harvest Kitchen are courtesy of their Instagram + Facebook pages.
**This post has been updated from the original from Fall 2017.**