The Women Behind Second Harvest Food Bank’s Triad Community Kitchen

In a world where women typically cook most of the meals at home, but men are more well-known as leading chefs in top-notch restaurants, it can be easy to get a little discouraged as a woman trying to make a name for herself as a chef. Second Harvest Food Bank’s Triad Community Kitchen understands the benefits women bring to the culinary profession as a profession, which is why they have several women helping to “run the ship.”

In speaking with the women behind Triad Community Kitchen, it is clear they give all they have to this mission. “To ‘run our ship’ you have to be flexible, hardworking and passionate about our mission and our program,” said the team. “You have to be able to roll with the punches and keep going! It takes equal parts intellect, compassion and creativity. You have to be able to think outside the box and always keep those we serve at the forefront. You have to have a deep respect for our mission and the services we provide, all while adapting to a constantly changing environment filled with challenges, success and life-changing opportunities. You need a team of people who share the same vision, goals and commitment for a job well done. One must believe that the journey will prove itself to be difficult at times, but [that] persistence and self-discipline will get you there as a team. You have to set the tone and the standards and, most importantly, you must never lose sight that everyone that helps to keep the ship running is as important and as instrumental as the one leading its course.”

The team includes:

Janis Karathanas, Director of Culinary Education and a TCK Alumnus

Jennifer Iddins, Director of Service and Onsite Sales and a TCK Alumnus

Tina Faughnan, Director of Client Services

Vanessa Lanier, Executive Chef and a TCK Alumnus

Heather Martin, Finance & Development Coordinator

“We embody strength to help the students reach their goals, but also kindness to nurture them,” they said. “I think we are able to be more empathetic to our students and their situations because we are women. We are able to nurture and understand situations that men would have a hard time understanding. I believe women make better multi-taskers than men, and when you work for a non-profit, you quickly learn that your duties go well beyond those written into your job description. Women are great at building a relationship, empowering others, tuning into people’s needs and balancing a staggering number of responsibilities—skills that are great assets. Throughout life, we learn how to adapt and overcome anything put in front of us. We show incredible compassion, specifically in the students we engage with. We fiercely support them becoming their best selves.”

The work being done at Triad Community Kitchen is making a difference, and it will continue to make a difference as long as it gets the support it needs from the community. No matter what happens with the economy, there are always people in need of help, and the statistics of those suffering from hunger are unacceptable.

“We help individuals that are unable to gain training elsewhere and give them the tools that are needed to succeed,” they said. “People come in with very little hope, with no direction and nowhere to turn. We want to provide all of these students with a skill set that will allow them to set a successful pattern for their lives and their families—financial and otherwise. We change their thinking by recognizing the unlimited potential they have; we remind them that they are valued and important, that they matter. When [we] take the broken, the forgotten and those perhaps deemed as ‘damaged’ and help to lift them, we are sending a strong message of tolerance, kindness and brotherhood to our children and our neighbors.”

There are many ways in which these women change lives, but they can’t do it alone, and there are several ways to help! “Hope for the future is continued growth in all our endeavors,” they said. “I hope that with God on our side, we can expand our model throughout our region and beyond, offering those in other communities the opportunity to help themselves out of generational poverty. Others can help by promoting the school and the services offered; by visiting our restaurant, meeting our students and telling others about our program and its mission; and simply by spreading the word and supporting Triad Community Kitchen Providence. Also, consider sponsoring a student. Our program’s cost for each student is around $4,000, but we only charge our students $385; however, many of them can’t afford that. Your $385 sponsorship provides them with 12 weeks of training, a one-week internship and a lifetime of dignity and opportunity. Community members can also help by supporting and sharing this unique and special program that is Triad Community Kitchen with friends and neighbors; by being a voice and an advocate for our mission; by making a donation that will help sustain our mission; by dining at Providence Restaurant; and by letting Providence Catering be your preferred caterer.”

For more information, e-mail Heather at, or visit the website at