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Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

 

Teaching kitchen helps Veteran in new job

Teaching Kitchen graduate and Veteran Michael Brumfield in the SLVHCS inpatient kitchen.

Veteran Michael Brumfield now works in the SLVHCS inpatient kitchen after graduating from The Teaching Kitchen, a unique partnership between SLVHCS, the Greater New Orleans Volunteers of America and the Fresh Food Factor. (Photo by Jamie Dannen)

By Jamie Dannen
Thursday, February 22, 2018

After almost a year, Veteran Michael Brumfield’s hard work is starting to bear fruit – as a full time cook at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System.

After he got out of the Army, Brumfield came back home to New Orleans, but fell on hard times, and eventually became homeless. Having nowhere else to go, he walked into the Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) and asked for help.

But it was a chance meeting in the CRRC with SLVHCS Medical Center Director Fernando Rivera that really gave him food for thought.

“I got to talking with the director of the hospital and he said you ought to go to this program we’re setting up,” said Brumfield. “So I went and applied for it and I got accepted.”

Brumfield is the first from a class of six that graduated last December from The Teaching Kitchen.

The Teaching Kitchen is a partnership with SLVHCS, the Greater New Orleans Volunteers of America and the Fresh Food Factor, a program that provides local homeless or at-risk Veterans with culinary job skills that could help them obtain employment in any one of the city’s many restaurants.

“The program was intense and, at times, difficult, but fun,” said Brumfield.

Earlier this year, SLVHCS advertised for a full-time cook in the nutrition service. Brumfield applied for the job and got it, and now works in the inpatient kitchen preparing meals for patients and managing food deliveries and edible and non-edible inventory, supplies and cutlery, uniforms and many other kitchen-related items.

Brumfield goes on to say, “It feels great to be able to make sure the Veterans have good, quality food that tastes good. If the food isn’t good, you know Veterans are going to tell you. We make sure they get a good healthy meal.”

As for getting past homelessness, Brumfield has this advice for Veterans.

“You can do it — I was homeless, I didn’t have anywhere to go. I just kept pushing and pushing, and the opportunity came up, and I took it. You just can’t stop trying.”

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