Philabundance breaks ground on new facility for training program

Construction is underway on a new, larger facility for a job training program run by Philabundance.
Photo credit Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Construction is underway on a new, larger facility for a job training program run by Philabundance. 

Jose Vargas of Olney was forced into a career change in 2003 when he broke his arm and couldn't work as a delivery driver.

"I had to reevaluate my whole career as a result of the injury. And the cooking program just kind of fell right on my lap at the opportune time," Vargas said.

Ready to break ground: Dignitaries and grads gather in North Phila for ceremonial start of construction on a new facility for the @Philabundance Community Kitchen.

— Mike DeNardo (@_MikeDeNardo) May 6, 2019

He was introduced to the Philabundance Community Kitchen where he was taught the basics of cooking and kitchen operations. Now he works as a program coordinator for Philabundance.  

The Community Kitchen program has been around for 19 years, teaching kitchen skills and life skills to people who are low-income or have no income at all. Many are re-entering the work world after being incarcerated. 

The program is currently housed in a city shelter on North Woodstock Street. With a ceremonial turn of the shovel in a vacant lot on 10th Street near Susquehanna Avenue, work began on a new $7 million facility, says Philabundance chief impact officer Melanie Cataldi.

It's official. Construction begins on $7M facility for the @Philabundance Community Kitchen in N Phila.

— Mike DeNardo (@_MikeDeNardo) May 6, 2019

"This building is going to be close to 20,000 square feet. It will  have a job training kitchen and a large meal production kitchen. For job training, we'll be able to at least double the amount of folks that we train. And the meal production kitchen can do millions of meals a year for the community," Cataldi said. 

Cataldi says when the facility opens early next year, the program should teach twice as many - up to 200 students a year.