SALT LAKE CITY – Catholic Community Services of Utah has launched a new program to help those experiencing homelessness to achieve self-sufficiency.
The St. Vincent’s Kitchen Academy is a 12-week training program designed to teach culinary and life skills. It is the first program of its kind in the state.
“It’s a huge thing, more for our clients than for anyone else,” said Randy Chappell, who directs CCS’ Basic Needs program.
The kitchen academy is “a great opportunity for individuals to learn how to cook, not just only for themselves but for employment opportunities,” he said.
Unemployment and low wages often contribute to the risk for a person to experience homelessness. “Sustainable employment is one key to creating and maintaining housing stability,” according to the CCS press release announcing the launch of the St. Vincent’s Kitchen Academy.
Right now, the restaurant industry needs workers, and students in this program can fill that need once they graduate, Chappell said.
“With the proper training, clients will leave the program ready to enter the low-barrier employment industry of food service,” the press release says.
The two individuals in the kitchen academy’s first class “are super-motivated and ready to move on in becoming self-sufficient,” Chappell said.
The individuals who are in the kitchen academy are trying to move forward in life, and “are willing to do something else even if it was outside their comfort zone,” he said.
Over the course of the 12 weeks of training, participants will receive hands-on training from culinary professionals in the St. Vincent de Paul dining hall’s new, state-of-the-art kitchen. Participants at the St. Vincent’s Kitchen Academy will graduate with a food handler’s permit as well as a line cook certification.
“Upon completion of the program, clients will also receive a year of case management services for housing and employment, as well as experiential learning opportunities through an externship and assistance in job placement,” the press release reads.
The kitchen academy is scheduled to have its next class begin in January 2022; enrollment will begin soon. They are planning for a group of 10 in that class, but may increase the class size in the future, Chappell said.
Those seeking to participate in the program must complete an application and have an interview.
For information about St. Vincent’s Kitchen Academy, visit www.ccsutah.org/programs.