April 16, 2013
The state of Florida is home to one-third of America’s homeless families and a local shelter is doing their part to combat the problem with unlikely ammunition: pretzels.
St. Augustine’s St. Francis House, alongside Flagler College Enactus, has recently kicked off Passport Pretzels, a hybrid job-training program aimed at homeless men and women that will teach its participants to bake pretzels while learning culinary skills that will give them the certification necessary to get a job in the third fastest growing occupation in Florida, the food industry.
“Most homeless are families with children,” said Renee Morris, executive director of St. Francis House. “What these parents need is more than just shelter; they need jobs. Passport Pretzels will provide just that.”
Training for Passport Pretzels has been taking place in the St. Francis House kitchen with an aim to sell pretzels around town from travel carts and at local businesses.
St. Francis House has achieved much of their success thanks to help from John Gaches, former CEO of the Baker’s International Association. The organization is also working on partnerships with First Coast Technical College to assist with culinary classes and training and Samantha “The Pretzel Lady” Fairlie who operates the well-known Der Pretzel Haus.
And while the program doesn’t officially open until May, Enactus, a student organization that focuses on creating entrepreneurial projects in the community, is already helping St. Francis House’s Passport Pretzels program generating plenty of buzz, earning the program a $2,000 Lowe’s Community Improvement Project Partnership Grant and a $1,500 Wal-Mart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Partnership Project Grant.
Together with the grants, donations from individuals and money raised through online funding website Indiegogo, Passport Pretzels has raised just over $10,500.
For more information, visit indiegogo.com/passportpretzels.