The global pandemic forced the Community Culinary School to pivot, raising questions about how to operate safely.
Committed to helping people with barriers to employment find opportunities through culinary training, the Community Culinary School of Charlotte (CCSC) questioned how it could continue fulfilling its mission during COVID-19.
“When the health and safety measures were announced in mid-March, we immediately furloughed the staff and sent the 12 students from Class 66 home,” Anne Lambert, Development Director of CCSC said. “Eventually we were able to resume training by offering remote classes and by bringing the instructors and students back into the kitchen two at a time. All 12 students graduated in June 2020.”
The CCSC saw a decrease in revenue through its dine-in services and catering, leading to financial concerns about how the organization could continue paying its students and alumni.
Determined to fulfill its mission, the Community Culinary School of Charlotte looked to COVID-19 relief funding to help during a time of uncertainty.
The organization received a Workforce Partner Support Grant from the City of Charlotte’s Open for Business initiative.
“The grant enabled us to continue to hire students and alumni and to continue to train them as well as to improve the skills of our staff,” Lambert said. “It also helped us continue marketing our services to our community partners, potential students as well as reach our donors with updates that the school and its students are thriving and surviving.”
All in all, the grant supported more than 80 people. The funding helped pay students and alumni for café, catering, and baking jobs, computer equipment allowing students to train remotely and apply for jobs, strategic planning to increase revenue, and more.
“Without these opportunities to serve our food and to showcase the talents of our students and alumni, we were concerned that people would forget about us and that financial support would wane,” Lambert said. “While our earned revenue has lessened, contributed income has remained steady.”
Despite the challenges, CCSC found innovative ways to keep its students and staff focused on their future.
“We feel grateful and thoughtful about the challenges we have faced. Our leadership is strong and resilient, and our organization is focused on our students and their journey of self-improvement.,” Lambert explained.
CCSC relied on strong leadership and resiliency to help its students. As the organization recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, it plans to continue welcoming new students and serving another 150 alumni with paid work. CCSC also intends to provide referrals to resources such as housing, jobs, healthcare, childcare, medical and dental care, and other services.
“Even as we follow health and safety requirements in response to COVID-19,” Lambert said,” CCSC continues with our mission: To transform the lives of our students and their families and positively impact our community through our workforce development training program.”
Community Culinary School of Charlotte received a Workforce Partner Support Grant from the City of Charlotte Open for Business initiative. Through the grant program, the City of Charlotte has awarded $3.5 million to workforce partners to provide programs for our community.