tarrant area food bank

Tarrant Area Food Bank's Fort Worx Program Pays Students to Train in Food Service

Fort Worx is a paid apprenticeship program for adults interested in the food service industry

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In the Tarrant Area Food Bank's Mission Kitchen Tuesday morning, eight students lined a prep table, cleaning and chopping vegetables.

"We're making stock for soup," Dom Dixon said.

Dixon got his acceptance letter earlier in June for TAFB's Fort Worx program. It's a 16-week course for adults who are interested in the food service industry. Students don't just learn, they get paid to learn.

"It's a paid work experience," said Fort Worx Chef Instructor, Joan Denton. "These students, this is their job. This is what they do, and they're so proud of themselves when they get that paycheck."

"Because I didn't think I could financially do things," said student Autumn Crawford. "And now I know I can."

Students spend the first 8-weeks of the program in TAFB's Mission Kitchen and classroom learning, then they spend 8-weeks doing an externship at Taste Project, a pay-what-you-can concept restaurant.

"February 5, 2021, I was clocking out for lunch and I got handed my last check," said student Dom Dixon, recounting the day he got laid off from his job at a t-shirt printing company.

It led him to TAFB's Fort Worx program. "I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to grill. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life professionally."

Dixon and Crawford are part of the second cohort to go through the Fort Worx program. When they finish, they will be Certified Fundamental Cooks, and eligible for an apprenticeship at the Culinary School of Fort Worth.

"It's opening a door to a vast food service industry," Denton said.

It's also helping students help themselves.

"So when I see people who are...in that blissful moment, just like mmmm, and they're savoring it, and they're loving it...it brings joy to my heart cause I'm like, I did that to somebody," Dixon said. "Food is love."

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