New Programs, Stronger Standards, More Graduates
With new business come new challenges.
Coast Mental Health’s foodservice operations have exploded since they joined the Catalyst Kitchens network in 2017 with a brand new catering program and in-house contract meals program for their housing residents.
Scaling up requires that staff and students are on the same page with well defined training procedures. Communication is key to ensure students get the attention they need and the businesses can satisfy their customers. Their team was looking for support to take their next steps.
Program Manager Margaret Davies and Chef Instructor Phil Morse attended our Train the Trainer workshop in March 2018 to equip themselves with new tools and techniques to lead their staff into their upcoming program growth. The workshop supported their work to create standard instruction methods and uniform student performance metrics in the kitchen. The consistency in their team’s training approach has strengthened their program overall and taken pressure off of Margaret’s training staff. She says, “…stronger standards lets you support your students better and always assume the best in their intentions.”
In the Catalyst Kitchens training model, students are assigned a social services provider (typically a Case Manager or Employment Specialist) who connects them to social services, counsels them on life skills and job readiness, and monitors their progress during the program. Chef instructors and trainers play an equally important role in the kitchen, facilitating culinary training and classroom instruction. Programs and operations staff work separately but with the same student goals in mind, it is imperative that communication lines are strong between these departments to track student success.
New Café Manager Robert Young is putting the culture-building techniques and consistent training opportunities from the workshop in motion as he builds his team in the catering and community meals program. The Social Crust Cafe team has added more community production on days with slower retail production so students always have tasks in the kitchen for a consistent training experience.
Students work for Coast Mental Health’s three business lines when in the program: the catering program, the Social Crust café, and community meals. Each business demands different skills and techniques that will prepare students for employment after the program. They plan to expand from two classes per year to three in 2018 to serve 50% more students than before, graduating more students into employment in Vancouver.
“We are trying to be more supportive of one another, so we can be more supportive of our students.” – Margaret Davies
Their team is not done building yet. Social Crust is hosting their first Guest Chef Night dinner this November after observing FareStart’s weekly event in March. The dinner is featuring Chef Scott Jaeger and a three course meal of fine dining cuisine to forty patrons and donors. A program graduate will tell their story about their time in the program to give guests an inside look at the program. Chef Margaret, of course, is already thinking bigger and better for the future, “This is just the beginning. We’re going to see what works and doesn’t work, then make it a quarterly event with twice as many guests!