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San Diego Nonprofit Gets Big Grant To Use Food Truck To Teach Culinary, Business Skills

Armand King, the founder of nonprofit Paving Great Futures, shows off the ban...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: Armand King, the founder of nonprofit Paving Great Futures, shows off the banner for his new food truck, Flippers Fish & Chicken, July 19, 2017.

Paving Great Futures, a nonprofit that teaches people culinary and business skills, has received a $25,000 grant from the international charity Chef Works Cares.

A new food truck in San Diego has a special background — it is run by the local nonprofit Paving Great Futures and teaches people culinary skills, along with how to start and run a business.

The program just received $25,000 from the charity Chef Works Cares. It is the largest grant the charitable wing of the uniform manufacturer Chef Works has ever given.

The money will help expand the Culinary, Hospitality, Administration, and Management Program, or CHAMPS, run by Paving Great Futures. The founder, Armand King, grew up in Southeast San Diego, and said he focuses on helping people with at-risk backgrounds.

"Sometimes the people coming from neighborhoods that we come from, we're using to hearing people talk, or to hear ideas, but to actually see them fulfilled, it means a lot," he said.

Video by Katie Schoolov

RELATED: New Voices: A Younger Generation’s Urgent Quest For Change In Southeast San Diego

King just rented a new training kitchen in downtown San Diego and is rolling out his food truck, called Flippers Fish & Chicken, to farmers' markets and street fairs later this summer.

The food truck helps him teach entrepreneurial along with hospitality skills.

"I'm hoping the participants, the people who created this program, they excel, they take it over, and they put me out of business," he said.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Armand King

Paving Great Futures participants work at the Flippers Fish & Chicken food truck, July 1, 2017.

The infusion of money from Chef Works Cares will help him expand the nine-month CHAMPS training program, which had a 100 percent graduation rate in its first year.

King said when Neil Gross, the CEO of Chef Works, visited his operation, he was not sure he was pleased.

"He came down here to our kitchen and talked to us, he kind of was stone-facing us a little bit, being tough, and we were like, 'does he not like us?'" King said. "But then when we finally broke through and he had that smile, it was great."

Gross said in a statement that King's nonprofit "is a perfect example of an organization that truly provides a working solution to the root causes surrounding economic instability and the invisible barriers to financial attainment felt by our fellow community members."

"At the end of the day, our partnership benefits the overall hospitality industry," he said. "We hope this is only the beginning for Paving Great Futures, and cannot wait to cheer their successes throughout our partnership."

The Flippers Fish & Chicken food truck made an appearance at the Four Corners of Life Celebration in Southeast San Diego last month, and will be at more locations later this summer, King said.

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