Youth Culinary Workforce Development Program

What is Root?

Root is a 12 week long youth development & workforce training program, based in Salem MA, that uses food as it’s vehicle to teach career and life skills.

Our Mission

Root’s vision is to prepare youth who are experiencing barriers to success to enter the workforce with confidence, self-agency, and a competitive edge. To do this, Root combines 200 hours of culinary and food service training, workforce preparedness, on-the-job experiences, life skills workshops and social capital, into an intensive 12-week program.

Who We Serve

The target population for Root’s Youth Development Program is comprised of young people ages 16-24 living in Essex, County Massachusetts who are out of school or in a non-traditional alternative education program that allows them to attend our Youth Development Training Program. There is preference given to young people who self-identify as experiencing barriers to success including poverty, a learning disability, mental health, or from a marginalized community.

The Opportunity

There are over 9,000 disconnected youth in Essex County — 10% of youth in the 16-24 age range.

  • In Salem, 60% of students are on free or reduced lunch
  •  83% of Lynn and Salem students are considered low-income
  • 40% of youth in Salem and Lynn are overweight and obese
  • 86% of Lynn and Salem students don’t eat recommended amounts of fruits or vegetables
  • Poor diets, high in fat, sodium, and refined sugars, lead to serious lifetime consequences, including diabetes and obesity

A typical day at Root?

Monday-Friday: 1:00pm-5:00pm

1:00pm - 1:20pm: Pre-meal

1:20pm- 2:30pm: Workforce Development OR ServeSafe Training

2:30-2:45pm: Break & Suit-up for kitchen

2:45pm-4:15pm: Culinary Training with Chef Sam

4:15pm-5:00pm: Family Meal & Clean-up

5:00-6:00pm: One-on-one workforce coaching on Tuesdays & Thursdays with Program Director. This time will allow for resume development, goal setting, Hiset achievement assistance, connection to wrap around service, and programmatic feedback.

What do Root Graduates Leave with?

  • Increased social capital through assigned Life Coach, Root staff, and direct restaurant connections that can be utilized as references and assist in job placement.
  •  200 hours of culinary skills training
  • A financial literacy training
  • Completion of an 8-week long externship at a local restaurant (equaling 32 hours)
  • A professional portfolio, including a resume and references.
  • Continued for-profit opportunities including event staff shifts and a Root Program Associate position.
  • Life skills workshops on conflict resolution, resilience building, stress management, and goal setting.
  • Two Industry recognized ServSafe Certifications
  • Workforce readiness trainings on resumes, interviews, job acquisition, and time management.
  • An ongoing relationship with Root. Graduates of the Root Program are always welcome to receive one-on-one training to help them refine their skills.
  • Will attend a career fair hosted by Root
  • Program Partners can earn up to a $500 stipend


Organization Name: 
Primary Contact Person: 
Beth Alaimo, Program Director
978-616-7615 ext. 107
Physical Address: 
35 Congress Street 3rd floor
01970 Salem , MA
Languages Spoken: 
Key Programs Offered: 

Youth Culinary Workforce Development Program

If you or someone you know is interested in applying, fill out an online application at

If you have any questions, please contact the Program Director at or  978-616-7615 ext. 107

Hours of Operation: 
Monday - Friday 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Community Meeting Space Available: