Aging Out of Foster Care and Into the Kitchen

A graduate of Our NewEst Culinary Arts TRAINING PROGRAM with program director Barbara Hughes

A graduate of Our NewEst Culinary Arts TRAINING PROGRAM with program director Barbara Hughes

Project Renewal is offering a new track of our award-winning Culinary Arts Training Program to young men and women who are aging out of foster care—a population that faces disproportionately high risks of unemployment and homelessness in their adult lives.

The new course, offered at our Fletcher Residence supportive housing building in the Bronx, serves New Yorkers ages 18 to 24 who are in need of career training options and college alternatives. Participants are recruited and receive an initial eight-week course in employment readiness skills by Catholic Guardian Services, a nonprofit that offers an array of social services to vulnerable youth and families. 

The program consists of six weeks of intensive training in the kitchen, followed by a mandatory six-week internship at a restaurant, catering company or corporate dining services. Students learn cooking, baking, catering, and nutrition; and they graduate ready to take on careers in the culinary industry.

“With the success of our Culinary Arts Training Program, we were looking for ways to expand to help meet the needs of more New Yorkers,” said Barbara Hughes, co-founder and Director of the Culinary Arts Training Program at Project Renewal. “When Catholic Guardian Services approached us seeking food service training for their clients, we recognized the positive impact our program could have on these young adults.”

According to the New York City Public Advocate’s Office, of the nearly 1,000 people who age out of the foster care system annually, 80 percent are on their own—dealing with vital needs like housing, employment, healthcare, and education. Fifty percent struggle with unemployment and 18 to 26 percent live in homeless shelters.

Our Culinary Arts Training Programwhich first launched in Manhattan in 1995, serving New Yorkers who had struggled with homelessness, addiction and unemploymentplaces graduates in jobs at twice the rate of similar programs nationwide. In 2013, the program won one of the "Top 10 Innovative Nonprofit Awards" from New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity.

“With Project Renewal’s Culinary Arts Training Program, we saw an opportunity to expand our workforce development program for individuals formerly in or aging out of the foster care system,” said Ann McCabe, Catholic Guardian Services’ Assistant Executive Director for Child Welfare Services. “Thanks to Project Renewal, not only are these young adults getting the training they need, but also job placement assistance.”

The first students to complete this new track of the Culinary Arts Training Program in the Bronx graduated on March 3, 2016.

For more information about our Culinary Arts Training Program, visit

For more information about Catholic Guardian Services, visit: