“The clothes don’t necessarily make the student, but they are an important aspect,” said Director of the Eastside High School Institute of Culinary Arts Chef Billie DeNunzio, CCE. “The students in our program need specific clothes to go on job interviews and to work in the hospitality industry. For many of the children, that is just not feasible.”
For over 10 years the Haven Hospice Attic Resale Store has been helping students dress for success while completing the required 200 hours working in the hospitality industry. “We donate white shirts, black pants, black skirts, socks and shoes to the Institute of Culinary Arts program,” said Haven Hospice Gainesville Attic Resale Store Manager Steve Tinney. “I think this is a really great program, and we’re certainly happy to help the students in any way we can. A lot of local establishments hire students from this program, so it is a way to help out the community.”
The Institute of Culinary Arts program focuses on other aspects of the hospitality industry aside from the culinary arts. Students are taught a wide range of skills pertaining to restaurant design, menu design, restaurant marketing and entrepreneurship.
“We teach them the culinary part, but we also introduce them to everything that is possible in the hospitality industry,” said DeNunzio who has been with the program for nearly 20 years. “Everyone comes in wanting to be a chef, but when they leave, they have a lot of other experience as well.”
“The students have been able to get jobs without having to worry about that component and that makes a big difference,” DeNunzio said. “The program receives funding from the school but a lot of our budget comes from catering jobs that we do. Haven’s donations have made such a big difference. No one has to be embarrassed and the program doesn’t have to stretch its budget too far.”
The program also runs a restaurant called the Hungry Ram Cafe on the Eastside High School campus. “The restaurant is not open all the time. We typically do luncheons for local organizations and reservations are required,” said DeNunzio. “Visitors often comment on how professionally dressed the students are. That would not be the case if it weren’t for Haven’s donations.”
For information on donating to the Attic Resale Store located at 300 N.W. 8th Avenue in Gainesville, please call 352.378.7484.