Glenn Melo, a graduate of the Culinary Training Program at the St. Joseph Center in Venice, represented the center at its tasting booth at Share Our Strength’s annual “Taste of the Nation” event in Media Park in Culver City Sunday, June 24th.

Other graduates of St. Joseph Center’s Culinary Training Program have regularly participated in the event in recent years, gaining the opportunity to network with chefs from some of Los Angeles’s top restaurants.

“CTP [Culinary Training Program] gave me a great jumpstart on my career,” Melo said.

The Culinary Training Program exemplifies the St. Joseph Center “hope through empowerment” ethos by taking just ten weeks to train people for careers in the food service industry, center officials said.

The program has a 70-percent job placement rate, according to the center. Clients have found jobs in top restaurants all over Los Angeles, including Ciudad, Locando del Lago, and the recently closed Norman’s on Sunset Boulevard, center officials said.

At this year’s Taste of the Nation event, St. Joseph Center was the only group both offering treats as a vendor in a booth and benefiting from the event as a grant recipient, according to the center.

In the last 15 years, the center has received nearly $100,000 from Taste of the Nation, which is sponsored by the national hunger organization Share our Strength.

Share our Strength funds support St. Joseph Center’s nutrition and job training programs, including supplemental groceries for low-income families, hot meals for the homeless and subsidized childcare where homeless, formerly homeless and low-income children receive two square meals a day.

St. Joseph Center serves 6,500 men, women, and children each year with services that help them achieve economic self-sufficiency, officials said.

Services include a food pantry, family-building activities, senior services, emergency and long-term homeless services, job training, high-quality childcare and preschool, and assistance in finding and maintaining low-cost, subsidized housing.

Information, www.stjoseph