The vocational training program provides basic skills for careers in the food service industry. Research suggests vocational training and life skills development decrease recidivism rates in corrections populations. Members of the first culinary class graduated Dec. 19. Pictured are: First row (program graduates): Tommy Warren, Kyle Grape, Zachariah Smith and Rigo Viera. Second row: Dawn North (soft skills instructor), Amy Gulley (resource developer), Sarah Grace Ashworth (culinary instructor), Linda Kozacek (soft skills instructor), program graduates Mary Womack and Aaron  Jenkins, Lee Jost (soft skills instructor), and Beau Heyen (director of Episcopal Community Services). Photo courtesy of Lori Sand


Photo courtesy of Lori Sand

Six clients at the Johnson County Department of Corrections Adult Residential Center graduated Dec. 19 from a pilot culinary cornerstones program.
The Department of Corrections partnered with Kansas City-based Episcopal Community Services to develop a 15-week culinary skills course for Adult Residential Center clients.
“The culinary training program is an excellent example of community partners and government coming together to teach skills that will help clients obtain jobs that provide livable wages,” said Betsy Gillespie, director of Johnson County Department of Corrections.
Program graduates were recognized at a ceremony at the Adult Residential Center. Students spent 15 weeks developing a variety of skills, including safe food-handling, nutritional planning, financial literacy, interpersonal communication and basic life skills.
“Partners worked together to provide the training, food and opportunities for participants to practice their new skills,” Gillespie said. “With so many restaurants in Johnson County and the Kansas City area, the program contributes to a need for employers to have a more skilled workforce. We are all excited about the success of this pilot program and hope that the graduates will utilize their new skills as they return to the community.”
The culinary skills program will continue with a new class in February. currently the department of corrections works with community partners to offer vocational training programs in welding and culinary skills. Episcopal Community Services first developed the culinary program to help address the Kansas City area’s issues with hunger, homelessness and poverty.