180° Kitchen teaches participants culinary arts

The elimination of global poverty is an incredibly difficult goal to make a reality without focusing efforts and resources within the community structures most likely to result in sustainable progress. Tech invests in a variety of programs providing assistance to third-world countries abroad, yet the bubble created by a beautiful college campus makes it hard to imagine that the same lack of basic human needs including food and shelter plague an entire neighborhood within a 10-minute drive from the Student Center.

Head down Northside Drive and turn onto Joseph E. Boone Blvd, where, amidst one of the worst neighborhoods in Atlanta, populated by the homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and 4900 malnourished children under the age of 12, a non-profit outreach facility called the City of Refuge exists to help the local community. Within the City of Refuge is the 180° Kitchen, named for the alternative path it offers less privileged 18-25 year old “at risk” youths heading in the wrong direction, through training in the culinary arts.

“The saying give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for life represents the holistic approach we take at 180° Kitchen,” said Damon Sheppard, who facilitates the higher education in culinary nutrition provided by the program.

The 12-week program does more than just feed the participants and the neighborhood; rather, it metaphorically teaches them “how to fish” via cultivating skills in the culinary realm, from the urban gardening projects to educate the youth on where food comes from, all the way to the preparation, delivery, and services aspects of the dining experience.

Emphasis on the health benefits of proper nutrition empowers individuals with an education and valuable skills that help alleviate the barriers to a sustainable source of income and stability.

“Solving an issue like poverty involves a relational process with long term commitments from organizations like City of Refuge to help a person walk the path from dependency to independence,” said Tony Jones, Director of Community Involvement.