Culinary Program Participants Graduate Despite Challenging Year of Covid-19 at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility
By Elaine Ezerins, Communications and Marketing Manager
Participants celebrated their successful completion of Vermont Works for Women’s (VWW) culinary training program on Thursday, June 30 with a graduation ceremony and dinner at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF), Vermont’s sole prison for women.
Despite instructor turnover and multiple lockdowns at the facility due to Covid-19 outbreaks, participants successfully finished the 12-week pilot program that trains incarcerated women in basic skills in institutional-style cooking. The program is designed to prepare them to work in health centers, college campuses, and other high-volume cafeterias after release.
Participants walked away with skills in food safety, menu development, kitchen math, and knifework, which they demonstrated by preparing a celebratory dinner for graduation guests to enjoy. The dinner showcase included marinated steak tips, fried spring rolls, a veggie platter with freshly made pesto and roasted red pepper dips, berry scones, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and chocolate eclairs.
During graduation, participants stood up in front of the guests and shared their takeaways from the job training program:
“We would like to take the time to give a special thanks to the people that made this culinary training pilot happen. We would like to acknowledge the following: Heather with Vermont Works for Women, Chef Bryan, Chef Sarah, and Chef Jaime.
Thank you for your service and thank you for providing us with this class that has taught us all so much. We feel blessed to… cultivate skills that we can utilize in our daily lives and beyond these walls, ultimately becoming part of our success.
Despite the challenges and institutional setbacks, we were able to master our goals and grow together as a class. The takeaways are huge and will have a profound impact on our lives forever. Thank you!”
Three participants graduated from VWW’s culinary program in its pilot year at CRCF. VWW is poised to run another year of the program, instructing two cohorts of four participants each, from July 2022 to July 2023.