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Transforming Lives: An Interview with FareStart CEO Angela Stowell

From Poverty to a Promising Future. For the first quarter of 2019, YP Impact is focusing on poverty – the issues faced, the people working with those in need, and how we as a community can help. FareStart, a local organization that teaches skills to and provides jobs for those facing the struggles of poverty, so they can build a better life, is out featured nonprofit this quarter. We spoke with FareStart’s new CEO, Angela Stowell, who is combining her roles of being a restaurateur and a philanthropist to lead FareStart, as it continues to grow and provide opportunities for those in need.

Ross Palmer: Congratulations in your new role as CEO of FareStart. What attracted you to FareStart?

Angela Stowell: Thank you! I’ve always been a big fan of FareStart. In addition to my work at Ethan Stowell Restaurants, I’ve been active in philanthropy and the community for a long time, so FareStart was the perfect opportunity to do both. I jumped at the chance to be a part of their incredible mission.

Angela Stowell, CEO of FareStart (Photo Credit: FareStart)

RP: Can you tell me a little about how FareStart gives the homeless, and those formerly incarcerated or having completed treatment programs, a chance to move out of poverty?

AS: For nearly 30 years, FareStart has helped people find a path toward a brighter future. It can be really tough to break out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness. A lot of people face compounding barriers to finding and keeping a job. At FareStart, we help overcome those barriers by teaching skills to succeed in the foodservice industry and in life. Through our various restaurants, cafes, catering and community and school meals, participants get real world experience. We also provide all kinds of support and resources along the way such as housing, mental health counseling, work appropriate clothing and more. Our model really works. In our Adult Culinary Program alone – our largest and longest running program – 90% of graduates land good jobs within 90 days.

RP: Other than culinary job training, what kind of guidance and skills does FareStart provide to help people get employed?

AS: At FareStart, people not only learn knife skills, they learn life skills – working on a team, dealing with stress, showing up to work on time, etc. Employers need people who not only know how to cook, but can get along with others and be professional. We also provide a welcoming and inclusive community for program participants. Many people come to us disconnected from their friends and families and feeling very alone on their journey. As people graduate from our programs, we often hear how they’ve become reconnected with loved ones and feel that FareStart is now part of their extended family.

Students of the FareStart program (Photo Credit: FareStart)

RP: What are some successes you have seen with the FareStart program? 

AS: I think the biggest success that took me a little by surprise is the work we’re doing with young people. FareStart has a Youth Barista Program (in partnership with YouthCare) and a Youth Culinary Program (in partnership with Seattle Public Schools). The young people coming through these programs are facing some of the biggest challenges you can imagine. Many have experienced so much trauma and upheaval at such a young age. Yet, they’re so resilient and determined. Last year, nearly 90 teenagers graduated from these programs. Many now have jobs or have re-engaged with school.

RP: Is there a success story you can share? 

AS: It’s hard to pinpoint just one, but one of my favorites is about Nikole. She’s been on her own since age 12 and went through the Youth Barista Program a couple of years ago. Shortly after graduating, she became an emancipated adult at age 16. Today, she’s working at Starbucks, has her own apartment and is going to school. Her goal is to come back to FareStart at some point and help other young people just like her. She spoke at our annual gala in October, which was also my first official event for FareStart. It was incredible to see this young woman on the stage so full of confidence and pride in her accomplishments. I can’t wait to see what she does next. 

RP: In addition to providing job training, FareStart also prepares meals to deliver to social service programs and schools around Puget Sound. Can you tell me a little about this? 

AS: Sure, a lot of people don’t know about our Community and School Meals Programs. Our Adult Culinary students begin their training by preparing handmade, healthy meals for local schools, healthcare centers, daycare centers and homeless shelter. It’s a great way to provide nutritious meals to people in need and enable students to learn and give back to the community. Since 1992, we’ve prepared over 10 million meals. We serve 365 days a year and haven’t missed one day of service.

RP: What is your vision for FareStart?

AS: I’m still in my first four months on the job, so right now I’m just learning as much as I can about the organization, the people we support and the needs out in the community. That said, I’m already working with the team to try and expand the work we’re doing with youth. Young people have been hit so hard by the homelessness crisis. We need to break that cycle now, so they can be set up for long term success.

FareStart Restaurant (Photo Credit: FareStart)

RP: How can people contribute to the mission of and your vision of FareStart?

AS: There are a lot of great ways to get involved with FareStart and support our mission – donating money, volunteering time, hiring FareStart for catering and simply eating at our restaurants. We make really great food that is consistently lauded, and all profits are reinvested right back into our training programs to help more adults and young people. Learn more by visiting or following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As FareStart is our featured nonprofit of the quarter we will be hosting 3 events with FareStart. February 23rd at Spotlight on Poverty, Morgan Winkler, Community Engagement Manager at FareStart will kick off the event talking about poverty in Seattle and what FareStart is doing to alleviate it. March 2nd, Volunteer Making Meals with FareStart in their contract kitchen. March 9th, YP Impact will host a silent auction benefiting FareStart and United Way at the YPOS 8th Anniversary Party. Hope to see you at the events!


YP Impact is a budding community of young professionals with an interest in giving back to the community we live, work and play in.  If you’re interested in joining the community or just hearing more, visit this page and sign up to follow along.


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