FareStart: From sandwiches to special events

Oh, I can tell you about the sandwich I savored at FareStart recently: warm apple-braised pork shoulder topped with beer-battered onion rings on potato bread, with sherry vinaigrette apple slaw and a side of spicy chipotle aioli. It was good, but it’s where the $9.25 cost goes that’s even more impressive.

I knew that FareStart is a job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. When I first moved to Seattle ten years ago, I did some volunteer work at one of the organization’s events. But it wasn’t until I met with Karla Smith-Jones, FareStart’s Marketing Communications Manager, that I learned just how extensive the program really is. The apparent focus of the 16-week program may be about culinary training, but it also teaches students how to survive and thrive in the working world. The funds from FareStart businesses provide for each student’s housing, transportation, and medical needs. Students also receive assistance with goal-setting, crisis management, life skills, and job placement. This holistic approach helps explain why more than 85% of FareStart’s graduates find employment within 90 days of program completion.

If you can’t make it downtown for one of FareStart’s lunches (the menu includes sandwiches, salads, and a variety of specials), there are plenty of other ways to help support the cause. Thursday Guest Chef Nights are extremely popular; not surprising, since you can score three-course meals from some of Seattle’s best chefs (who work with FareStart students to prepare the meal) for $24.95. Summer brings the annual Guest Chef on the Waterfront event (this year on July 15), featuring a night of great food, wine, and entertainment. I was fortunate enough to be a judge for last year’s event, where the FareStart crew drew kudos for Best Entree when they wowed us with their Kobe beef sliders with heirloom tomato relish. And if you’re as humbled as I am by FareStart’s contribution to the community but can’t attend an event, you can always contribute a donation.

Speaking of events, May brings the start of the Urban Eats (3 courses for $30) promotion featuring an exciting list of area restaurants, and this Saturday (1-4pm) is a special kick-off event: an Urban Eats Nosh-a-Thon. $30 gains you entry to a launch party at the Basco Kitchen Design Showroom in Tukwila, where a number of the Urban Eats chefs will be showing off their culinary skills. A fabulous chance for some food samples, beverages, prizes and surprises – all again benefiting FareStart.

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