New Valley Junction Restaurant to Offer Homeless Job Training

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Over the past couple years, Nick Kuhn has been a busy man.

“It was all these adventures I was on where I starting seeing things that needed to be fixed,” said Nick Kuhn, executive director of the Legion of Food.

Piece by piece, Kuhn and his crew started solving the food truck puzzle in Des Moines. Now, it seems unthinkable to go to festival and not order from a truck. But along the way, Kuhn found another problem in metro he wanted to solve.

“In addition, my role in the food truck industry has exposed me to the needs of the homeless and hungry in this community,” he said. 

At first, Kuhn asked trucks to drop off any extra food to local shelters

“But when you show up and you’re handing out food and they eat like there is no tomorrow, that hits home,” said Kuhn.

Nick quickly realized that handing out a few sandwiches wasn’t going to cut it.

“It’s good, it helps, but we want to take it one step further and try to give them some skills that will help them get out of their own situation,” says Kuhn.  

His plan is pretty straight forward: to find these people jobs. 

The new complex in Valley Junction will be called the Foundry, and will have a hall, kitchen, and distillery. In the kitchen, an apprenticeship program will be offered that is only available to those that are homeless. These individuals will train and work for a year, to get ready to enter the job market. Kuhn says the goal is to teach them how to fish, instead of just giving them one.

“In fact, that is part of our motto, part of our mission statement, is 'teach a man to fish,'" said Kuh. "Feeding people is wonderful, teaching them to get out of their own situation is, I think, a more sustainable solution."