Feeding the Valley and Open Door helps people find jobs through culinary arts

Columbus nonprofits offer culinary classes to help people find jobs

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Columbus nonprofit organization is using culinary arts to teach people new work skills and to help them find jobs.   

The culinary program is taught by Open Door Community House and in partnership with Feeding the Valley Food Bank in Columbus, they're able to use a 3,000 square foot commercial kitchen at the food bank.

"When they leave here hopefully they will be prepared to work in hotels, kitchens, restaurants here in Columbus, the school district," said Octavia, Downing-Open Door Institute Coordinator.

During a 16-week course, they're also learning life skills, self-esteem control, goal-setting and hand-on training in the kitchen.

"It's a total new world to them. They don't know how to cook so they are learning the basis once they get in here and just getting ready for some kind of job with part time and full time," said Downing.

Enrollment is for those at Open Door Community House in Columbus once a year with no more than 20 people at a time.

Their chef is a culinary instructor at Central High School in Phenix City. He uses this program as a ministry to help others learn skills through cooking.
"Certainly teamwork, math skills and how to convert recipes. Patience is a virtue. You do have to be patience when you cook,"
said Chef John Chapiewski, culinary instructor.

D'vonne Cason hopes to leave the culinary program and open up her own restaurant.

"It's the place to be. And plus they help you find a job. They will help you in ways you can't even think," said Cason.

One former student of the program opened a barbecue restaurant. At the end students will graduate with several certificates including a work readiness certificate.

Feeding the Valley says this partnership is a way to find uses for the fully functional kitchen at the facility.

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