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Second Harvest's new kitchen helping teach skills

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The new $15 million Second Harvest Food Bank facility is officially open, and it will now be able to serve twice as many people.

But that's not all: The new place has also cooked up an idea to help lower the number of people needing free food.

John Carroll is an aspiring chef who is part of the first class of culinary students in the Second Harvest kitchen.

"This is my new beginning to a better life without drugs and alcohol and all that goes with that, and moving in right direction," said Carroll.

The point of the new program is to help students like Carroll learn a new trade, help them find a job and ultimately take them out of the food line.

"They were on one side of the food line receiving the food and now they can pay that forward by producing the food in the kitchen that is going to go back into the community," said kitchen director Dawn Viola.

The first class of 16 students is just getting started in the state-of-the-art, donated kitchen. They will not just learn to cook, they'll also learn life skills, officials said.

 "Number one: Change lives," said Dave Krepcho of the Second Harvest. "It's a production kitchen. It will make a couple hundred thousand meals a year."

It will also be catering several events every week. The kitchen has been open only a week, and it has already booked its first wedding.

Because of that catering component, the kitchen will be a profit source, with the money going back into helping to serve up more meals and more opportunities for people like Carroll.

"I can't do anything about my past, but I can do something about my future, and this is going to help me right here," said Carroll.

The new Darden Foundation Community Kitchen will be preparing hot meals every day for organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs.

Down the road, Second Harvest hopes to become accredited so that the students can become certified chefs.