Salvation Army Kitchen Cooks Up New Culinary Grads!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Salvation Army’s School of Culinary Arts in Chattanooga, Tennessee is celebrating the first graduating class of its program! As of result of their training, three students have all successfully secured jobs in the local area, and two of them have transitioned from homelessness to permanent housing.

This culinary arts program is different than your average cooking school in that it is designed to equip local homeless and low income persons with the skills they need to thrive in the food service industry, empowering them to overcome homelessness and unemployment.

Chef Terry Epps, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College, runs the 12-week program in which students get hands on training in environmentally friendly agriculture, meal preparation, and even resume and interview tips. The culinary schools wraps ups with a two-week internship in a local restaurant kitchen.

The Chattanoogan featured the following from the newspaper’s conversation with Chef Epps and a program graduate named Jasmine:

“The students are learning the skills necessary to work in kitchens which prepare daily staples such as hamburgers, as well as, more formal kitchens where complex, multiple course meals are the norm” said Chef Terry Epps. Though the focus is on marketable skills, Chef Epps has noticed additional benefits. “When my students put on their uniforms I see a boost in their confidence. They are uplifted and excited to learn and change their lives.”

“The School is proof that there is hope out there,” said Jasmine, a formerly homeless mother of two small children. “I want to change my life for the better and this program has made that possible.”

You can watch first hand interviews of Chef Epps and Jasmine HERE in a news story run by WDEF 12 about the life changing program.

Congratulations to the new graduates, and best wishes at your new jobs! We hope many others will be inspired to take advantage of this Salvation Army program. In fact, although the School of Culinary Arts is only able to take 5 students per class, there are already 20 applicants for the next class in July!

For more information about the Culinary Program and services offered by The Chattanooga Salvation Army, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and their website www.csarmy.org.

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Helping Homeless Children Succeed

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nearly 150 homeless individuals are housed in The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center in Detroit, and about 80 of those are children. Salvation Army Captain Barbara McCauley told The Detroit News that many mothers who come through their doors sought shelter there when they were kids.

Unfortunately, children of homeless adults face the risk of getting caught in the cycle of homelessness. In addition to the effects posed by the emotional stress and instability of their circumstance, moving from place to place and from school to school causes many children to fall behind in their education. These struggles kids face while they are young could pose a notable impact on their development into adults.

Organizations including The Salvation Army recognize the need to confront these issues in order to stop the trend. Through mentorship and tutoring, staff and volunteers are strengthening kids with vital educational and recreational opportunities the children might otherwise miss. This effort is even taking place now at our Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center in Detroit.

In addition, homeless parents are able to focus more effort on finding jobs and housing while their children are being intellectually and emotionally nurtured.

Check out an article featured in the Detroit News that discusses this life-changing endeavor and our efforts at The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center in Detroit: Tutoring Programs Try to Break Cycle for Homeless Children.

For more information about The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center in Detroit, click HERE.

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Salvation Army Chef’s Award-Winning Ribs Benefit Homeless

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, backyard grills are getting ready for their summer debuts, even at The Salvation Army! In Mobile, Alabama, the holiday weekend is the cue for the Army’s annual barbeque fundraiser, where hungry supporters will have the opportunity to purchase slabs of Salvation Army Chef Cecil Morris’ delicious, award-winning ribs (yes, they are so tasty that they were recognized by Food Network star Paula Deen).

Proceeds from the event will help support the reopening of The Salvation Army Center for Women and Children that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, with the new facility being able to shelter 50 homeless women and children.

Read more about Friday’s annual rib fundraiser and all the delicious details at the Alabama Press-Register here.

There’s also an amazing backstory behind the event’s talented chef. Cecil Morris, Culinary Arts Manager for The Salvation Army in Mobile, was once a client of our rehabilitation program while he struggled with alcohol and drugs earlier in life. While working in The Salvation Army kitchen as a part of his recovery process, he picked up on and practiced basic culinary skills, learning and climbing his way up over the years to where he is today – successful, self-supporting, sober, and inspiring others who are also trying to turn their lives around. You can read more about Chef Morris’ amazing personal story and opportunities offered by The Salvation Army in Reader’s Digest and USA Today.

Now what are you waiting for? Grab a bib and some wet naps and get some ribs before they’re gone!

For more information about The Salvation Army in Mobile, Alabama, visit www.salvationarmymobile.org.

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“LemonAid” for Homeless Children

Monday, May 24, 2010

There is something cheerful and nostalgic about seeing roadside lemonade stands run by eager, entrepreneurial children. Nothing beats following the crayon-etched signs and dropping a few quarters into a tackle box-turned-cash register, then being greeted by a kid beaming with accomplishment as they hold up a refreshing homemade beverage in return.

That’s why we’re excited about a creative benefit called “LemonAiD Days” to support homeless children and their parents, an effort organized by The Salvation Army in Central Kentucky. Beginning June 1st, individuals and groups in this area can register their lemonade stand online or at their local Salvation Army. Participants will receive a LemonAiD kit in the mail that includes official badges, posters, and return envelopes for proceeds.

This fundraiser is a great way for kids to practice creativity, learn about economics, and be empowered to make a difference in their community. Proceeds will benefit The Salvation Army’s Comprehensive Emergency Shelter for families in Central Kentucky, with funds supporting the operational expenses associated with housing homeless children, such as providing food, lodging, diapers, clothing, and child-care.

For more information or to register online, visit www.lemonAiDdays.org. To learn more about The Salvation Army in Central Kentucky, visit www.salvationarmylex.org.

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Homeless Find Opportunity, New Life in Chef Tucker’s Kitchen

Friday, April 30, 2010

Chef Timothy Tucker’s students are not the typical individuals you would expect to be enrolled in intensive culinary classes – they’re homeless or living below the poverty line. But through these classes Chef Tucker is not just meeting the momentary needs of the disadvantaged population, he’s empowering them to support and sustain themselves for the rest of their lives.

Timothy graduated with a degree in culinary arts and worked in high end restaurants. He later spent a few years doing research and development on an organic farm where he says he began to understand that diet affects all areas of an individual’s functionality, attitude and behavior, and that food can play a significant role in healing.

Chef Tucker, wearing black, with his culinary students.

He brought this knowledge with him to The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope in Louisville, KY in 2005, where he developed the Culinary Training Program, an intensive 10 week course that teaches basic culinary skills needed to find an entry level position in the food and hospitality industry. Here, homeless or impoverished students learn everything from safety and sanitation in the kitchen, to knife skills, to preparing a range of foods, and much more. They’re tested weekly and even cook for events and fundraisers to raise support for this self-funded program.

The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program even has two gardens outside – one is the half the size of a football field and the other half the size of a basketball court – where fresh vegetables and herbs are grown for use in the kitchen. According to the Program’s Facebook page, these organic gardens grow nearly 1,500 pounds of produce each year which help feed the Center’s homeless. Amazing!

Culinary students receive intensive training and hands on practice in the kitchen. (Photos: Culinary Program’s Facebook page)

On average, 9 students complete the course each semester, and Chef Tucker says approximately 75% of his graduates secure work. The remaining 25%, however, don’t acquire a job not for lack of skill or help from the Program, but rather a lack of desire to rejoin the workforce. But Chef Tucker says he’s confident those individuals would be able to find a job if they pursued it. Meanwhile, he says he has visited his former students in their new work places and receives wonderful feedback about his program.

Under the guidance of Chef Tucker, The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program has done a great job of not just feeding the homeless but reducing homelessness through education and opportunity. He is working with other Salvation Army facilities across the country to replicate this program and reach other disadvantaged populations.

For more information about the amazing work of The Louisville Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program, visit their website at www.centerofhoperadio.org . Also visit them here on Facebook and help them reach their goal of 3,000 friends by the end of May!

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