Fresh, vibrant, local, and simply unique: that’s Inside the Box, an innovative social enterprise of Metropolitan Ministries. Lively, friendly service with a clean and bright atmosphere, and a fabulous array of locally grown foods. It’s where comfort, flavor, and culture mingle with opportunity to make a difference in the community.
In addition to serving contemporary Americana and inventive original dishes to take home, we offer in-house roasted, cured, and smoked meats and seafood, cheeses, and specialty sandwiches and salads—all with locally sourced and produced ingredients.
In addition to really good food, Inside the Box offers an inspirational story.
Founded in 1972, Metropolitan Ministries is a local, independent, Charity Navigator 4-star nonprofit in Tampa Bay. Our programs lead homeless families to self-sufficiency.
Inside the Box is a social enterprise of Metropolitan Ministries—a catering business with a twist. Aside from serving delicious food, we provide culinary arts education and hands-on vocational training to men and women transitioning out of homelessness. Our graduates are employed at our catering division and at some of Tampa’s finest restaurants.
All proceeds from your meal or purchases from Inside the Box go directly to feed the hungry in Tampa Bay. In the last year, 1,169,826 million meals have been served through Metropolitan Ministries’ hunger programs.
Culinary Arts Program
In addition to serving contemporary Americana and inventive original dishes, we also serve a much higher calling by providing vocational training opportunities for men and women transitioning out of homelessness and poverty. The Culinary Arts Program (CAP) produces qualified employees who are prepared for work in the hospitality industry. Upon graduation, each trainee has gained the ability necessary not only to find a job, but to keep it! In the process, the students gain skills and work ethics that encourage them to lead a life of self-sufficiency.
The Inside the Box Culinary Arts Program is funded by JPMorgan Chase; each student accepted into the program receives a full scholarship. Classes are small, 8-10 students, for a more personalized learning experience. The Culinary Arts program is offered each quarter of the year. 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 more 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 also considered for application based on their interest in the field, as well as their level of commitment to completing the program.