Second Helpings chef cooks up careers while fighting hunger

Brown was graduate of same program

INDIANAPOLIS - One local chef is being recognized by his community for his service and dedication to the culinary program that helps those facing hard times get back on their feet, all while working to fight hunger.

Every day at Second Helpings, volunteers and staff members rescue food from wholesalers and restaurants that might otherwise go to waste.

The organization, on the city's near east side, turns that food into hot, nutritious meals that are distributed to 70 social agencies that feed people in need.

Chef Sam Brown is the man who makes much of that possible. He is the Culinary Training Director and he is responsible for turning out good meals, while also teaching his students the fine art of becoming a chef.

"What incredible passion this man has and what a remarkable commitment to the community that goes beyond just what he does for second helpings." Jennifer Vigran said. "Chef has a huge heart and everyone who encounters him knows that." 

All five students in Brown’s 10-week culinary course just graduated, and all five of them have jobs waiting for them with local restaurants or catering companies.

This class marks the 73rd class of chefs who have trained at Second Helpings over the years.

Many are disadvantaged and have overcome personal problems like addiction, abuse or homelessness.

Octivia Burris lives in a woman’s shelter, but now has a job and a brighter future thanks to Brown.

"He pushed me and pushed me and pushed me to almost the breaking point, and then he built me up and then he pushed me some more, but that's why I'm a graduate today," Burris said.

Brown has a lot in common with Burris and the other graduates. He too faced hard times and also graduated from the culinary program before moving on to a successful career.

"I'm proud of each and every one of you, and now you get to be a part of that elite group, Second Helpings graduates," Brown said to his students.

Brown will soon take on the 74th class, but his mission will remain the same – making sure the graduates get the proper training to earn a livable wage, all while helping in the fight to reduce hunger.

"That's really what it's about at the end of the day, is, first instilling hope for those who've been unemployed, for those who've been homeless, for those who've made some poor decisions or just had a rough time in the past," Brown said.

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