Unemployed find work in kitchens through special training

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Feeding the hungry and changing lives. That’s the mantra of the Culinary Cornerstone Training Program.

Their goal is making restaurant workers out of those who are chronically unemployed or underemployed.

The 30-week-program works both in the classroom and kitchen, with 15 weeks of internship and five weeks working in an actual restaurant.

Those who qualify have references and go through an extensive application and interview process; some of its past graduates have struggled with things like drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness, be survivors of domestic violence or be ex-offenders.

“A lot of our participants were homeless when they began,” said Kamisha Stanton, Culinary Cornerstone Training Program director in Jackson County.

Stanton says that’s where social workers step in to find transitional housing, food stamps, bus passes and other services.

For Dwayne Norvell Satterfield, it’s a way to start over, even at 61.

“Cooking was always my passion,” said Satterfield. He is a veteran and just last year struggled with alcohol abuse.

He went through the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation program and they recommended Satterfield try the Culinary Cornerstone program.

He enrolled in the Episcopal Community Services program in Jackson County and in a few short weeks he will have a new career working in a kitchen.

"They have all the tools they need to be the successful,” said Stanton, who believes Satterfield will be successful once he graduates.

The program boasts once their participants graduate, 90 percent of them wind up in jobs earning an average of $12 an hour.

"We have a partnership with their employers to maintain employment. We are there to step in the kitchen where they work if they need it," explained Stanton.

The same curriculum is used in the Johnson County Adult Detention Center in New Century, giving qualifying offenders a second chance.

"I told them if they stick with it, they can have a career," said Satterfield.

Graduates of the program are currently working at places like Café Trio, Bier Station and for widely used catering companies like Aramark.

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