Hospitality House is a community effort to help homeless Nevada County residents get back on their feet. It provides emergency shelter and a sober environment for up to 54 men, women, and children who come daily to Utah’s Place, its facility located between Grass Valley and Nevada City. Its program offers nourishing meals, medical services, a housing program, life skills and job training classes, plus outreach to homeless people in the county who do not use its overnight services. Hospitality House helps people out of the grinding cycle of poverty by providing a six week culinary job training program. This program empowers homeless adults to achieve employment and self-sufficiency goals through life skills instruction, internships, job-placement assistance, housing case management, empathy and hope. Students begin their six week classes with little or no knowledge of working in a kitchen and at the end of six weeks they are equipped with the skills needed to be competitive candidates for employment in the food and hospitality industry. The program accepts three to five students at a time and provides them with the skills necessary to find employment in the food industry, while also teaching them the fundamentals of good nutrition. Throughout the program, students are tasked with providing nutritionally balanced menus for student chef dinners that must not only provide a certain caloric intake, but also the proper ratio of simple and complex carbohydrates, fats, and protein. BriarPatch Food Co-op began working with Hospitality House in March of 2017.
When Hospitality House was struggling after the expiration of federal funding that supported most of their programs, BriarPatch offered to fund their culinary job-training dinners. This not only helped to sustain the program, but it enabled it to take a significant step in providing a greater depth, instructional development, and conceptualization for lesson plans. Now students shop at BriarPatch for the food they need to prepare their student chef dinners on most Wednesday nights. BriarPatch provides farm-fresh ingredients for the meals that the culinary students create for the rest of the shelter guests. Shopping at BriarPatch has been an education in itself for the students, as they identify what is in season and within the budget for feeding a large group. Students make dinner for the 54 men, women, and children staying at the shelter, and they learn to consider costs while planning a balanced, nutritious meal.
BriarPatch’s support of the Hospitality House culinary job readiness program ensures that its homeless neighbors have access to high quality, healthy products, especially local and organic food. By graduating students with a fluency, knowledge, and appreciation for high quality food ingredients, nutritional information and their preparation, and for the labor and thought involved in getting those ingredients from their source to the dinner plate, they draw attention from local restaurants looking to hire qualified food-service workers who share the same forward-thinking ideals as BriarPatch.
Hundreds of individuals per year utilize the Hospitality House Community Shelter in Nevada County. Many of these individuals are disabled, veterans, and single parents who want to provide their children with safe and stable homes. Many lack the career skills necessary to find and maintain living wage employment. Others suffer from low self-esteem or a disabling condition that doesn’t permit them to work in careers many have spent their lives doing. That’s why the Hospitality House Serves Culinary Job Training Program, sponsored by BriarPatch, is so important. Hospitality House also provided 38,325 meals in 2017, with produce grown from the BriarPatch garden plants, the store and volunteers. Hospitality House Serves helps people out of the grinding cycle of poverty by providing a 6 week culinary job training program. This program empowers homeless adults to achieve employment and self-sufficiency goals through life skills instruction, internships, job-placement assistance, housing case management, empathy and hope. Students begin their six week classes with little or no knowledge of working in a kitchen and at the end of six weeks they will be equipped with the skills needed to be competitive candidates for employment in the food and hospitality industry.
Our work with Hospitality House is a source of great pride for the co-op. By supporting their culinary arts training program, we are getting healthy food to people who are most in need. We are helping them to make the connection between the farm and the dinner plate, learn how to prepare fresh foods and we are offering great job training that helps them get back on their feet and earn a living. Chris Maher, General Manager, BriarPatch Food Co-op