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Foodlink Career Fellowships graduate to middle-skills jobs in the food industry

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Foodlink's Career Fellowship Class of 2019
Credit Alex Crichton

DaQuan Quick is about to start his career in the culinary arts. But getting to this point wasn’t always easy, he said.

"It was a long, long, difficult process,” he said, “but you know, I just stayed focused, stayed consistent, and kept it in my mind, and got it done.”

Quick is one of eight young adults who are the first to graduate from Foodlink's Career Fellowship program. The Rochester Public Market hosted the graduation ceremony Thursday.

Jes Scannell, Foodlink’s director of career empowerment initiatives, said the inaugural class spent a year earning their credentials in the food industry program.

"They cooked some of our 5,000 meals for children in the city of Rochester. They learned culinary techniques and they ended with an externship, most of them at Wegmans," she said. "They went from having a passion for food, to being full-time employees at one of our region’s largest employer in culinary arts. "

Foodlink secured $1 million from the state for its community kitchen and built the infrastructure for the program. It is now accepting applications for its second culinary training program class.

The fellowship became an official New York State Registered Apprenticeship Training program this year.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul addressed the graduates at Thursday’s ceremony.

"It means you're going to be somebody, and that is significant,” Hochul said. "So feel good about that today as you walk out of here. This is a day that's going to change your life forever."

Hochul said this program could serve as a model for not only the state, but the nation.

Quick, like many of the graduates, will be working full time at an area Wegmans.

He says there’s no telling where he’d be without this program.

``Everything that I didn’t know, there was someone there to teach me.  That’s my favorite part of this whole program, just the will to help, and see somebody else succeed,” he said.

Visit FoodlinkNY.org for more information about the Career Fellowship program.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul addressed the graduates:

Graduates getting their diploma from the Foodlink Career Fellowship program: