SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Father Joe's Villages hosted two Thanksgiving meal services Wednesday for homeless residents in San Diego, but perhaps no one was more thankful than the people who helped prepare the food.
Three chefs-in-training in the Father Joe’s Culinary Arts Program spent days preparing the turkey dinner, which was served to an estimated 2,300 to 2,600 people.
“They changed my life by far,” student Brian Anziano said of Father Joe’s.
Anziano said he got involved in “stupid stuff” last year that left him homeless, but at the suggestion of friend, he began turning his life around with the help of Father Joe’s.
Anziano enrolled in the 15-week culinary course, considered the most rigorous of the 10 workforce development programs offered by Father Joe’s.
“They buy your shoes, they buy your pants, they buy your uniform,” he said. “Everything you need.”
The massive Thanksgiving meal is kind of like a midterm, said Culinary Arts Program instructor chef Theresa Fields.
“We work 14 hour days, 16 hour days. We’re always on call,” said student Lister Lane with a smile.
Lane said his dream is to graduate and open his own restaurant. “And I want to give back to the homeless like they helped me,” he said.
Past graduates have gone from these kitchens to jobs at Kansas City Barbeque, PETCO Park, the Hard Rock Hotel, Amplified Ale Works and more, FIelds said.
Father Joe’s said about 80 students have graduated from its various workforce training programs so far, and they’re on pace to graduate about 100 students by the end of the year. New programs, including one in hydroponics, are planned for next year.