New Seat at the Table fund

Mars Food’s Ben’s Original brand has launched a new scholarship programme – the Seat at the Table fund – in the UK to help support access to skills building and mentorship for Black hospitality workers.

The Ben’s Original Seat at the Table fund – which was first established in the US in 2020 – has launched in the UK in partnership with Be Inclusive Hospitality. The programme aims to advance diversity in the food industry by addressing racial inequality in access to opportunities. Together with education provider Leiths School of Food and Wine, the programme will offer 15 funded places on selected courses.

The courses range from shorter specialised ones that run over a couple of days – Food Styling and Knife Skills – to longer accredited professional courses which run over a 10-week period – Chefs Skills, Plant Based Essential Cooking and Nutrition in Culinary Practice. Successful candidates will also be offered three hours of mentorship over the course of three months via Be Inclusive Hospitality’s proven scheme to provide support, knowledge sharing and personal development.

This programme is open to applicants who identify as Black working in operational roles in UK hospitality (those involved in the day-to-day running of the operation such as chefs, front of house or kitchen staff) who are looking to further their careers in the food industry.

While 17% of UK hospitality workers are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, the majority are working in lower paid jobs.  This is especially true when it comes to Black hospitality workers who are one of the groups least likely to be in the highest paid roles, and second most likely to be in lower paid roles. Black hospitality workers are also least likely to have access to opportunities that would support career progression such as a coach, sponsor, development scheme or qualification.

Applicants will need to have two years’ experience working in hospitality and as part of the application process will be asked how this opportunity will help them to further their career ambition. Applicants will need to provide a written answer of 300 words.

Applications will close on September 30, 2022. Successful applicants will be chosen by a cross-organisation panel (made up of Mars Food, Leiths and Be Inclusive Hospitality) with finalists announced by the end of October. The classes will take place through to the end of the year and into early 2023.

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