Culinary Art Brings Confidence to Inmates
At first glance, the kitchen we are talking about might give the impression of any ordinary kitchen at a restaurant, a café, or a home. However, one special quality makes it extraordinary; it is a kitchen where prison inmates are taught culinary arts.
To some, prison inmates and the culinary arts might seem like two very contrasting notions that do not seem to add up, never to be found in one sentence or a setting together. This is exactly the kind of thinking that the Passages Women Center is trying to change with their Billings Prerelease Program for female offenders. Their culinary arts program is geared to help the inmates grow in confidence, and to give them another chance at life.
Helping Them Find Better Futures
The Montana Women’s Prison refers any eligible inmates to join the culinary arts program as students. These inmates must have less than or equal to 24 months left before they are released from prison. The culinary arts classes are designed to give enough experience to the inmates regarding in-house food services so as to help them with future jobs.
Many students have acknowledged the fact that although the classes may be tough, the appreciation received after they have their meals reviewed make their hard work really pay off, in addition to the perks of learning an amazing set of skills from qualified instructors.
Numbers Don’t Lie
The chef and manager of the culinary arts program, Jessee Megan regards the inmates with nothing short of high standards, working hard to make sure that the culinary arts bring confidence to them about their abilities. Having ran the project for more than four successful years, Jessee recounts the optimistic statistics of the program.
Only one in the thirty women that have participated in the culinary arts program so far has re-offended. Not only this, but an estimated 80% of women who have graduated from the program found jobs in the culinary industry upon their release.
Turning Them into Sociable Members
The students also participate in a range of philanthropic activities during the course of their training. One such example is the students’ participation in a fundraiser for Young Families Early Head Start. A group of around ten students from the program gathered together to help out the organization which has been involved in helping teen parents by providing them with child care in the Billings area for the previous 25 years. Such activities not only bring confidence to the inmates as contributing members of the society but also give them a sense of purpose.
The program is not only a great initiative for the wider community but is also capable of doing wonders on an individual level for the inmates. Life in prison is hard as it is with the guilt of having to live with the consequences of crime. The culinary arts program gives the inmates a chance to step out of the constant surroundings of the prison walls and to do something productive with their time. Moreover, it gives them a chance to turn over a new leaf and start over after prison.