By Lauri Lee
FEED Bakery Training Program students enrolled in the October 2016 session finished training at the end of January and then were assisted in finding jobs. There is a high demand for skilled bakers and restaurant workers in Madison, and students who complete the FEED Bakery Training Program are qualified for entry level employment as bakers in restaurants, cafes and commercial bakeries, or as a prep cook or line cook. To help students start on the path to a living wage job, they are offered a mentor to assist them in navigating the employment world.
Making bakery items sold wholesale and retail through FEED Bakery allows students to get trained on the job. “This training experience has been so valuable for me,” said Kate, a 24-year-old training program student. “I had worked in a bakery when I was in my mid-teens, but I had no idea about everything involved in getting the finished product ready for the customer,” she said. “In the FEED Bakery Training Program, we are trained on commercial equipment and learn to decorate, package and label the baked goods. We also learned how to make croissants, Danish, sweet breads, muffins and an enormous amount of cookies.”
In addition to baking, students are also provided with life-skills training, as well as sales, marketing and customer service skills. Training also includes culinary techniques, knife skills, commercial kitchen equipment use, food safety, baking practices, product packaging and baking math. This training, combined with the ServSafe and Wisconsin Bakers certifications, helps students to be more valuable employees to prospective employers.
“I am breaking out of my shell and have job options that I never had before,” said Kate. “I’ve always worked in restaurants, holding down two part-time jobs at night. These new job skills will help me to find a daytime job that will provide the added income that I need,” she shared. “I’ve always dreamed of opening my own bakery. This training has inspired me and is moving me closer to being able to realize that dream.”
After being self-employed in construction for 20 years, Brendon, age 49, found he could not continue in that work due to his health. “I had been familiar with FEED Kitchens for a couple of years and decided to give it a try,” said Brendon. “The focused training in the FEED Bakery Training Program was just what I needed,” he said. “Jim and Martee are great teachers and very patient, as well as empathetic. They don’t just relay information, they teach. This training program has been a Godsend and has impacted my life, helping me find a new energy that I lost a long time ago. I used to be negative and mad at people. Now I have hope and I’m taking the steps to be everything I can be. All of this comes from the positive energy of everyone involved at FEED Kitchens.”
Amber, age 23, had been unemployed for several years before starting the FEED Bakery Training Program. She had baked at home and liked it. “I enjoyed the structure of this training program and particularly liked learning the management decisions involved in wholesale and retail bakery that makes an item profitable,” said Amber. “Completing this training program and receiving the certifications will provide me with the necessary experience to be able to find continuous employment. My goal is to work in a bakery for a few years and then see what’s next.”
Are you underemployed or know someone looking for job training? The FEED Bakery Training Program, a project of the Northside Planning Council, is putting people back to work. The training is provided at FEED Kitchens, a certified, state-of-the-art commercial kitchen with commercial-grade equipment. A consultant and managers with accumulated 80-plus years of experience in the food service industry teach the training curriculum developed by a Master Baker and certified by the Wisconsin Bakers Association.
No prior training or experience is required to apply. Qualifying students may receive a full scholarship to the program. This is a 90-day program held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The next training class will start Jan. 30. Applicants must complete an application and interview to participate in the program. The application deadline is Jan. 27 and interviews will be held from 11 am–12 pm at FEED Kitchens. Please see www.feedbakery.org for the application and email the completed application to firstname.lastname@example.org or bring it to FEED Kitchens at 1219 N. Sherman Ave. If you have questions, contact Martee at 230-1224.