Intern Today, Employee Tomorrow: Second Harvest Food Bank Internship Program

August 23, 2019

Sometimes, the best way to learn is to do. The Catalyst Kitchens culinary training model is about providing real time, on-the-job experience for students to get the “real deal”. This comes with the support of case management, culinary instruction, and wraparound services serving as a student’s “training wheels”. Our member programs run businesses to serve as training grounds for students to develop their knife skills & culinary knowledge as well as soft skills like teamwork. Students absorb information daily through operating in business models such as restaurants, catering companies, or contract meals operations before heading out the door to their own employment.

The following story highlights one great example of the foodservice job training model in action. Our Model Member Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (SHFBCF) is excited to share their strategy for their advanced internship program. This story is a taste of what they’ll share when they host Catalyst Kitchens’ Foodservice Job Training Programs 101 Workshop in October.


Engage Your Employer Partners

Employer partners are throwing their hat in the ring to host students to work in their kitchens for an internship experience. If the program’s kitchen serves as a student’s training wheels, this experience would be a solo bike ride around the neighborhood before hitting the streets. This model gets students out of their comfort zone in the program’s kitchen and shows them what it’s like to work in a real kitchen while still providing important case management and wraparound services for students. Not only is it great for their resume, but it can serve as a long-term working interview that can land students a job offer at the end of the program. 

Students at Model Member Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (SHFBCF) are jumping into real world experience through their advanced culinary internship model to expand their skillsets. Graduates of SHFBCF basic culinary program participate in a full-time paid internship for 16 weeks at Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort or the Marriott Grande Vista. Many students walk away with a full-time job offer with benefits that can provide much needed economic stability and set them up for future success.


Funding the Program

A constant question mark in the nonprofit world is: how do you pay for this program? Second Harvest Food Bank has utilized Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding to cover the cost of student salaries in the program. Outside of their larger employer partner relationships, SHFBCF has partnered with CareerSource of Central Florida to place students with additional employer partners and covers their wages at $12.50 per hour (Florida’s minimum wage is recorded at $8.46/hour in 2019) for 16 weeks in hopes that students will be offered a position at the end of the program.


A strong community

Important partnerships and relationship cultivation are key strategies in this programming, from the employers to fellow social services agencies to provide support and funding. This internship model serves everyone involved: students get great experience in a commercial kitchen & receive a salary during the program, the Second Harvest Food Bank program can focus their efforts on student case management and student learning, and employers can find great new potential candidates to work in their kitchens when the program is complete.

SHFBCF’s internship model and their strategy behind it is one of our sessions at our upcoming Foodservice Job Training Programs 101 Workshop, an introductory workshop giving the behind-the-scenes look at all things foodservice job training. Workshop participants will have an opportunity to see SHFB’s large contract meals operations through their Kid’s Café & learn how they built their training program through their existing food bank programming. Participants will walk away empowered to champion this program model within their communities or grow their training program’s social impact.


The Foodservice Job Training Programs 101 Workshop

This workshop is open to the public and a great opportunity for board members, executives, and management new to the foodservice job training model. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is hosting on October 9th & 10th in Orlando. Learn more about this workshop and other offerings on our events calendar.


Catalyst Kitchens members and partners receive a discount off their workshop fee, please email for more details. 



- Learn more about the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

- The SHFBCF Blog: Swan & Dolphin Helps Launch Culinary Careers

Blog Category: 

Job Training

Corinne Molz

Corinne brings experience to her role of Communications Coordinator from her background in event planning, international development undergraduate degree, and her passion for the foodservice job training social enterprise model. Her career goals are devoted to lifting others out of the cycle of poverty through economic empowerment through employment/workforce development. She previously served FareStart as a Catering Captain, Catalyst Kitchens as Program Associate, and currently manages all More