Wor-Wic celebrates first class of “FoodWorks” graduates on the Shore

SALISBURY, Md.- It was graduation day for culinary students at Wor-Wic Community College on Thursday, but it was extra special because they’re the first class of graduates coming out of a new partnership with Wor-Wic and the Maryland Food Bank.

“It’s my passion and due to the funding, to COVID as well, it was hard for me to go to college as far as being a mother,” Cierra Dickerson, a culinary graduate said. “So, this was a free course and it was 12 weeks, and I thought I could do it and I did.”

“We are trying to do things more broadly and address some of the root causes of hunger in a way that reduces peoples reliance on food banks. Our contributions to that is to provide some work force development, provide some training for folks who can get gainful employment in an industry, especially on the Eastern Shore that continues to be strong,” Carmen DelGuercio, President and CEO of the MD Food Bank, said.

The Food Bank and Wor-Wic joined forces to launch FoodWorks. It gives students hands on experience while pushing new limits.

“Using the grill, that was like difficult for me, I never did before and it kinda traumatized me the first time; but I love using the grill now,” Marissa Purnell, a culinary graduate, said.

“Being as a mother and having to come here Monday through Friday, 9 a.m to 6 p.m., it was kind of hard,” Dickerson said. “It took some obstacles to face, that was the hardest part; learning to poach, sauteing and grilling at a good recipe by hand and by step by step that was kind of hard.”

And, it’s not just knife skills the students walk away but life lessons as well.

“Whether that’s challenges they face with transportation, whether that’s challenges with their resumes, whether it’s challenges with interviews anything that we can do to help that individual potentially succeed,” DelGuercio said.

“I really did like our career development, how closely our case management was involved with making sure that everybody left with a job if they wanted one, resume building,” Purnell said.

Now with certificates in hand, students said they’re excited to see the difference it will make on the Eastern Shore.

“We don’t really have many things like this on the Shore, so for this to be the first time and for us to be the first class and I just cant wait to see it grow, get bigger, you know more developed,” Purnell said.

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