Kitchen of Purpose

Kitchen of Purpose

Generating Socio-Economic Change Among Women in the DC Area
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Meron prepares for a day of cooking and learning the Kitchen of Purpose training kitchen.
Photo Credit
Paloma Martinez

Kitchen of Purpose uses the power of food for socio-economic change in low-income communities. We empower individuals from under-resourced communities through our culinary job training program with technical training, soft skills, and job placement. The program is especially transformative in the lives of women who receive a 57% average wage increase upon graduation.

Meet Meron, 23, a recent graduate of our culinary training program from a cohort with a 100% job placement rate.

Meron witnessed political war in her home country, Ethiopia. In the midst of the turmoil, cooking brought her peace. She fled Ethiopia, arriving in the U.S. as an asylum seeker. Here, she was on her own, finding a place to live and navigating enrolling in community college. Meron was successful in community college, receiving several scholarships to transfer to culinary school. When the pandemic hit, however, the school canceled the program, and she had to return to Ethiopia due to COVID restrictions. But Meron still had dreams of pursuing culinary arts. She was able to return to the U.S., and one day, she discovered Kitchen of Purpose while visiting her friend. (Kitchen of Purpose is located on the bottom floor of an affordable housing apartment building.) She knocked on our door, and soon decided to join the culinary training program, a year of culinary school condensed into 8 weeks plus a 4 week paid internship.

As a student, Meron loved being taught by an instructor who was a woman from a top culinary school and who was as passionate about cooking as Meron was. Meron completed her internship at Assembly Food Hall in Rosslyn, Virginia and now works there full-time.

Meron’s culinary career is just getting started, and she has the drive to gain experience and responsibility in the field. One day, she hopes to start her own food business, and when she does, Kitchen of Purpose’s Small Business Incubator will be there to support her as she brings to life her dream to create an international fusion restaurant.

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