Organization Spotlight: HAVE Culinary Training Society

CTSAt DP World Vancouver, we believe that when more businesses focus on social responsibility, whether through donations, volunteering, or operating their own charity—the entire community benefits. Our Community Kinship campaign strives to raise awareness for charitable and non-profit organizations that contribute to the greater good.

Today we would like to discuss The HAVE Culinary Training Society, a Vancouver organization that’s helping people who experience high barriers to employment find purpose and pride through meaningful work.

The Mission

The old saying is still true: Give someone a fish, and you’ve fed them. Teach them how to fish, however, and you’ll feed them for life.

The HAVE Culinary Training Society is one local charity that has taken that adage to heart. Founded in 2007 as a school for preparing future restaurant chefs, HAVE has grown into a full-fledged culinary school that provides new hope and genuine opportunity through social enterprise.

HAVE aims to serve those in the Downtown Eastside who struggle with poverty, homelessness, addiction, and mental and physical disabilities. Many of the students have been out of the workforce for extended periods of time, or have been incarcerated. The staff at HAVE is motivated by the emotional reward of seeing their students grow, thrive, and begin to take pride in their life journeys.

How Does the Organization Work?

HAVE provides a two-month, full-time course in the working kitchen of the full-service HAVE Cafe. Students learn cooking, cleaning, food preparation and even customer service skills as they progress through hot and cold kitchen training to baking and catering. They experience firsthand the day-to-day pressures of working in a restaurant kitchen and learn how to meet the deadline demands of large catering orders. These practical skills make students restaurant-ready once they’ve completed the course and received their FOODSAFE certification.

And the best part? Revenue generated by the café supports the needs of the school.

HAVE recognizes that obtaining employment requires more than just possessing the skills necessary to do the job. While in the programme, students receive training in the fundamental areas of job search, resume-building and interview skills.

The results speak for themselves: Of the approximately 900 individuals who have entered the programme, 75 percent found employment in the restaurant and hospitality industries throughout BC—many within days of completing the programme. This is a remarkable achievement, both for HAVE and its students when you consider the career obstacles most of the students have faced.

The Lives HAVE Is Changing

Most often, students make their way to HAVE by word of mouth, but some are referred by WorkBC, local shelters and Corrections Canada. Regardless of how they get there, the school is a resource that people can turn to when they’ve decided to make positive changes in their lives.

The programme is free to the students, and they can get in the door and on the path to a better, more productive lifestyle without having to come up with funding. What’s more, HAVE believes in giving second chances—some students may not complete the programme the first time, but they are never discouraged from trying again. Overcoming struggles with poverty and addiction can often be a ‘two steps forward, one step back process,’ and allowing students to complete the programme at their own pace, in a judgment-free environment, leads to a greater success rate overall.

By completing the programme, students prove to themselves—and to future employers—that they have the motivation and commitment necessary to succeed.

How You Can Help

Training costs approximately $3,750 per student, and because no student pays tuition for their training, the work of HAVE is supported by volunteers and through the generosity of the people and businesses of Vancouver. There are several ways to help:

HAVE also welcomes restaurant professionals who would like to volunteer as teachers in the training programme. Any contributions—whether in the form of time, expertise, donations or simply frequenting the cafe—will continue to help produce a new generation of restaurant and hospitality professionals who are inspired by newly learned skills, self-confidence and hope.

Contact HAVE Culinary Institute

If your organization is looking to take the next steps in its corporate responsibility programme, HAVE could be the perfect recipient of your support. For answers to questions about how you can help, visit their website for contact information, or check out their Facebook page.

Also, don’t forget to grab lunch at HAVE Café—their daily menu is posted on their Twitter account!