Program provides jobs while feeding Valley students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A dollop of sauce and a handful of cheese go a long way in the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commissions kitchen. In perfect unison, employees make cheese pizzas.

"Pizza is not just pizza, food is amazing and food is life," said Cora Fluker.

They put them together by the dozen, and by the end of the day, hundreds will be prepared and ready for delivery.

"We can normally pump out about 600 pizzas in a day," said employee Joshua Burnham.

Each pizza will be sent to different school districts, including Fresno. For a year now, EOC's pizza program has fed countless children across the Valley and created new employment opportunities.

"Once the pizza program came in it opened up a job opportunity for me which I was able to get part-time," Burnham said.

The program was created under the nonprofits recently formed Enterprise Division. Food Services Director Jon Escobar said they partnered up with a local pizza business who could not make enough pies to meet demand. The owner handed over the recipe and employees got to work.

"It is the exact same product that they would be producing, except with our staff and our location we are able to do it on a larger scale and help save their costs," he said.

Eight positions were created. Fluker said for her it is more than just pizza.

"For me personally, it gives me a sense of fulfillment since I don't have kids of my own it gives me a chance to provide for children," she said.

Currently, the Pizza Program is the only partnership under the Enterprise Division. Other businesses have expressed interest, but their kitchen is almost at max capacity since it's shared with EOC's food services operation.

Plans are in the works to expand their kitchen so they can grow their program.
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