A dozen inmates at the Westchester County Jail were recently honored for graduating from a five-week culinary training program.
"In2Work," is a food service training program that teaches inmates kitchen basics and safe food handling as part of a program offered by Westchester County Department of Corrections team in partnership with Aramark, said Westchester County officials.
The program is part of Westchester County Executive George Latimer administration's priority programs offered in an effort to offer inmates training for when they are released from jail that will help them gain employment and make reentry into "normal" life easier.
The 12 inmates were honored by Latimer, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, Chairman Benjamin Boykin of the Board of Legislators, and Correction Commissioner Joseph K. Spano.
“At DOC, we don’t judge you," said Spano. "We assess, we treat, we rehabilitate and we get you ready for re-entry. But when you leave here, it’s on you gentlemen to take the next step. And the good news with this program is that there are next steps.”
Those steps for success include access to a web portal of available job openings, assistance with writing resumes and the availability of scholarships for further study.
“When you go out there in this world, take this talent that you now have and put this experience (of being incarcerated) behind you," Latimer said. "Go forward and achieve, so that the persons in your life look at you the way that I looked at my father. Prove to people that you are the person that you can be.”
Instead of caps and gowns, the In2Work graduates were then presented with their chef's hats and aprons and a ServSafe certificate recognized as the national standard in food service.
At the close of the ceremony, a student-prepared buffet showcased items grown onsite in the jail’s gardens, including harvest vegetable pitas and eggs gathered from the jail’s newest residents: a flock of chickens raised by its inmates.
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