The Falcons’ season may be over but they’ve left a lasting impression on one group of men — or rather, their food service has.
It all began when employees of Levy Restaurants volunteered to serve soup.
In a community outreach effort, this food service company, which operates at the Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center and Phillips Arena, sent volunteers to Atlanta Mission. Here, homeless men participate in a personal development program designed to teach skills and expose them to possibilities that could help them transition to independent living.
One of Levy’s volunteers sent to serve soup was Executive Chef Frank Abbinanti. He was inspired to do more to help and hoped to teach the men on the kitchen staff how to better utilize the food that is donated.
Chef Frank, as he’s known to the men at Atlanta Mission, developed a training program to give the guys on the kitchen staff “a good understanding of what it takes to work in the kitchen.” During regular sessions with Chef Frank, the Atlanta Mission residents learned sanitation and safety, knife skills, basic stocks and sauces — the fundamentals.
The culminating experience of the training included a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchens at the Georgia Dome on a game day. The men trekked through each kitchen facility at the Dome to see preparations come together to serve 62,000 football fans. After the tour, the men were treated to lunch on the club level and tickets to the game. John Morris, who participates in Atlanta Mission’s program said, “We were treated like royalty, like special people. We were not treated by where we’ve been in the past, we were treated for who we are today.”
Atlanta Mission strives to prepare the homeless to become independent once more through training programs such as this one. Resident Joseph King said, “I have been in food service before and got a new vision of what could be out there for me. Chef taking the time to give us that tour shows us that he believes we are special… When I looked over there and saw his chef jacket, it gave me hope. I saw my name on that badge. To see his gave me hope that I could be wearing one of those…”
Chef Frank acknowledged that upon graduation from the program, he would welcome some of the program’s participants in his kitchen if there are openings. The partnership between Levy Restaurants and Atlanta Mission has already helped some of the men who work in the kitchen to get jobs. In fact, one recently relocated to Florida for a position with Levy.
We tend to get wrapped up in what’s happening on the field, but sometimes what’s happening off of it is more important.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog