A Brief History
FareStart is a culinary and barista job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Over the past 19 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for over 5,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 4.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children in Seattle, Washington.
In 2006, FareStart’s board took a first and decisive step toward building our network. With the goal of growing impact beyond Seattle, FareStart lent staff who raised start-up capital to provide technical assistance for foodservice training programs nationwide.
Called Kitchens With Mission, this pilot project was given an unusual charge. Instead of teaching a specific, existing model, it was to identify the best of existing models and demonstrate how these could be effectively used together.
Over the ensuing five years, Kitchens With Mission (KWM) became a resource to over 100 organizations. Of these, 50 partnered with KWM to expand their operations, including launching 25 new programs. Together these programs graduated over 500 people who entered training with significant barriers to employment—individuals who were homeless or on the verge, who had only a limited formal education, had served time in prison or had no place to turn. Of these, over 70% are now working in living-wage jobs. Together, these trainees have produced over two million fresh, nutritious meals for their communities.
With the success of the pilot, FareStart invited ten like-minded organizations to a summit in Seattle to discuss the next phase of the project. All participants agreed the time was right for the loose association of programs to become more impactful through the establishment of a collaborative national network. And together, we set a framework for sharing experience and documenting best practices – to the benefit of member organizations and new organizations looking to replicate this model in their community.