Manchester, NH,
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Recipe For Student Success

Student secures future in culinary school

Like so many of us, Moriah Webster didn’t know what she wanted to do when she got older. She grew up in Manchester, NH, and Moriah and her sister were raised by a single mom. Moriah felt she had little direction and no real passion for a specific career.

By age 20, Moriah was married with a newborn.

“I was young and had no idea how to be a parent, so I went to Our Place,” says Moriah. “Our Place is run by Catholic Charities and taught me about birthing a baby and being a good mom.”

Moriah became a stay-at-home mom and wanted to eventually become a personal assistant. “I took care of my great aunt while my daughter was little,” explained Moriah. “I’m good at keeping people organized and on task.”

Moriah became inspired when nurses put her great aunt on a special diet. She began researching nutrition, which got her thinking further. “My great aunt is not the only person who needs help with nutrition,” thought Moriah. “Others need support.”

After hearing of Moriah’s new-found interest, an Our Place social worker told Moriah about the New Hampshire Food Bank’s culinary training program. The Catholic Charities program, supported by State Farm, is a free initiative offered to low-to-moderate income individuals. Moriah quickly enrolled.

“We learned everything from how to properly chop vegetables to how to efficiently manage time,” says Moriah. “The chef tells us what to do, but it’s up to us to get it done in a timely manner. He has confidence in his students and that makes us feel good. I never did anything in the culinary field before, but I left class feeling totally confident in my abilities.”

Since 2008, 425 students have graduated from the culinary training program, which is a full-time, eight week program. Ninety-two percent of participants complete the program.

Moriah graduated in 2013. “The program solidified what I wanted to do,” she explains. “I was young and wasn’t sure, but they helped send me in the right direction and changed everything for me.”

Moriah worked several years in school kitchens. “I helped feed students and loved it,” she says. “It was a great learning experience.”

Then, Moriah got a call from Chef Jayson at the Food Bank. He was looking for a new production assistant. Moriah jumped at the opportunity.

She now helps instruct culinary students in the course from which she graduated. “I get to interact with people all day,” she says. “I help the students feel good about the skills they’re learning.” Moriah also assists in catering for community-based functions, such as a local cancer walk or an event welcoming new residents to New Hampshire.

Moriah has also brought her teaching skills to her own kitchen. She taught her 10 year old daughter how to use the stove and grill. She now plans and makes dinners most nights for the family.

“I couldn’t imagine being in any other field,” says Moriah. “One good meal can change someone’s entire outlook for the day. I love being that smiling face and handing a person a good, healthy meal. This is what I was meant to do.”

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