The Greater Chicago Food Depository provides more than just food for Chicago's hungry. Good Day Chicago introduced viewers to one of their most successful training programs Monday morning.
The Chicago's Community Kitchens program helps the unemployed and underemployed train for a successful career in the food service industry. The free, 12 week culinary program aims to end the cycle of poverty.
"There are people that come to this program that needed a pantry or soup kitchen before now they have a job and now they're building a career," Greater Chicago FoodDepository's Bob Dolgan said.
Students get hands on culinary training. They develop skills in meal preparation with meats,vegetables, soups and deserts. Skills that will help them land jobs in the food service industry. Over 1,000 students have graduated since the program started in 1998.
Joseph Ramirez is a recent graduate and success story. Ramirez, who ran into some trouble with the law, was turned on to Chicago's Community Kitchens after completing the Cook County Sheriff Boot Camp Kitchen program.
"The Cook County Boot Camp is an alternative form of sentencing," Ramirez said. "A lot of good came out of it I was able to get involved in this program. It just changed my life as far as the road I was headed down and where I wanted to be. I'm happy to be here and not just because what they taught me but for helping me become a better man and a better person and above all changing my life. "
Ramirez, who he just completed an internship at the uber popular Hot Chocolate in Bucktown, is well on his way to a career in the culinary world.
"I would like to know more about cakes and pastries and get hands on with cake and pastries," Ramirez said. "My ultimate goal is to open an ice cream parlor."
The other great thing about Chicago'sCommunity Kitchens program is that the students prepare food for over 2,500kids a week.
"We have 60kid's cafes in the city and the meals that are prepared here are not only are students learning skills in the culinary field," Dolgan said. "They're also preparing meals for kids. So it's a win-win all around."