The Tampa Bay Food Fight event highlights one of the main causes of homelessness: unemployment due to a lack of marketable skills.


Metropolitan Ministries’ Inside the Box Culinary Arts Program (ITB CAP) preps at-risk students in the skill of culinary arts at no cost to them. The class consists of students from three segments: aged out foster youths, clients of Metropolitan Ministries, and residential clients of Metropolitan Ministries. The culinary arts students move quickly through the 16-week course from basic skills to advanced techniques that are the basis for creating any style of cuisine.

This allows time for 150 hours of culinary classes, 20 hours for a Food Handling Certification course, 100 hours of high volume production experience, 100 hours of cafeteria experience, 100 hours of restaurant experience, and 40 hours for a Life and Employment Skills course. Training in restaurant, institutional, and cafeteria cooking will prepare students for diverse job opportunities.

Our students come through a partnership with the Eckerd Family Foundation, Joshua House, the Triad Foundation, Starting Right Now, Connected by 25 and the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County to identify aged out foster youths who would be interested in receiving culinary training and working in the field. Clients of Metropolitan Ministries and residential clients of Metropolitan Ministries are considered for application based on their interest in the field, as well as their level of commitment to completing the program.

ITB CAP students receive real life, fast-paced training from our knowledgeable chef instructor. Upon completion students receive a food handler certification and real life skills & experience as a food preparer. To date, ITB CAP has trained over 150 students who are employed at numerous restaurants and food service facilities in the Tampa Bay area.



Left with few options after her husband walked out on her, Linda bounced around from couch to couch with her son, before finally finding a more permanent home at Metropolitan Ministries. It was there where she found her calling in culinary arts and now serves as a prominent team member of Inside the Box Café, one of the Metropolitan Ministries’ social enterprises in the Bay area.

With your help, Culinary Arts Program students will now have a more prominent role in the community, thanks to a partnership with Stellar Partners and Tampa International Airport. Inside the Box now provides grab n’ gourmet food throughout TIA.

We need your help to make this program a success. By sponsoring a student like Linda in the Culinary Arts Program, you will help someone who was previously homeless, struggling to make ends meet or an aged-out foster child, learn vital career skills. And through programs like our partnership with TIA, they will gain real-world experience on a daily basis.

At Inside the Box, good food is doing good, and you can help be a part of that.