Need, Knowledge and Nourishment – FareStart Serves the Community in More Ways Than One

Since 1995, FareStart has operated as a training center and restaurant, providing solutions to poverty, homelessness and hunger. Today, it’s a vital community resource for many in need. Their nonprofit model is based on one commonality we all depend on: food.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, showcasing FareStart’s mission is fitting, especially for those looking for local volunteer opportunities! As we see it, their food-centric programming can be boiled down to three seemingly simple, yet life-changing notions: Need, Knowledge and Nourishment. FareStart programs embrace those in need, provide fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the service industry, and nourish both program members and community members through the power of food and gathering.

While the cycle of homelessness can feel inescapable, FareStart’s youth and adult culinary programs provide an opportunity to overcome. Enthusiastically supported by our community, corporate partners and individuals alike, FareStart offers four, multi-week programs free of charge where students learn the skills necessary to succeed in the food service industry and life. Students receive practical work experience in FareStart restaurants, cafes, and catering programs (which provide meals to social services, shelters and schools in the Seattle area). FareStart also provides free housing to culinary students while they’re enrolled in the program – acknowledging that it’s difficult to make real life changes if you don’t have a safe place to stay.

Their recipe is a proven one, as 91 percent of program participants secure jobs within 90 days of graduating.

How we got to know FareStart

When FareStart outgrew their space in Belltown, they purchased the three-story building at Seventh and Virginia. Originally built in 1923, the building required a major renovation in order to accommodate FareStart’s operations and expanded teaching program.

Coughlin Porter Lundeen provided structural design services for the renovation of the 33,000 square-foot wood and masonry building. Seismic upgrades included steel braced frames and concrete shear walls. The majority of the building’s interior required demolishing and the entire wooden rooftop was rebuilt and structurally reinforced to handle new mechanical equipment.

One highlight of the renovation sprung from the salvaging of the existing building’s heavy timber ceiling beams. Two of these beams were refinished and made into a long, communal table which serves as the centerpiece to FareStart’s main dining room.

FareStart’s renovated headquarters features two kitchens, two dining rooms, and three floors of office space. Over the last decade, the building’s larger space and new features have allowed FareStart to more than double the number of students it trains annually.

Cooking for a cause

Since the opening of their flagship restaurant, the non-profit has opened additional subsidiaries including a second restaurant, Maslow’s by FareStart, and multiple cafes and coffee shops in the downtown area. Proceeds from each outlet benefit FareStart programs and support partnerships with other affiliations like YouthCare, Compass Housing, and Jubilee Women’s Center to name just a few.

Every day, FareStart serves the community in far more ways than one. Since opening their doors, they have prepared well over 10.5 million meals for schools, healthcare centers, shelters and more. Their impact is far-reaching and the partnerships they’ve fostered with local organizations and communities is nothing short of inspiring.

FareStart Guest Chef Night

There are many ways you can be a part of the FareStart community (learn here).

One of our favorites: weekly Guest Chef Night! Every Thursday, Guest Chef Night gives FareStart students an opportunity to work alongside premier chefs from the Seattle area to prepare a three-course dinner for guests. The program has raised more than $6 million to support job training, placement, and support for adults aiming to better their lives. Hundreds of renowned chefs have volunteered their time to host Guest Chef Night, offering students an exciting opportunity to learn from the best of the best. And the perks of being a guest are just as good!  Great food for a great cause!

Our team attended the most recent Guest Chef dinner, hosted by Chef Brian Clevenger of Le Messe. The experience was a phenomenal one, and we can’t encourage you enough to make a Thursday Guest Chef reservation for yourself!

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