Learning to Cook - For Work and Life

The Connection offers cooking classes at the Roger Sherman halfway house.

The Roger Sherman House adapted its commercial kitchen to hold cooking classes using a grant from The Community Foundation Photo Credit: The Connection.

Residents at the Roger Sherman halfway house are learning food preparation skills in its commercial kitchen. The culinary program, run by The Connection, is designed to not only help men who were recently released from prison find work in foodservice. It also teaches the basics of how to plan and cook nutritious meals and adopt healthier lifestyles.

"This is part of our mission to provide training for living wage jobs for our clients," says Claire Bien, Associate Director of Fund Development at The Connection.

The program takes advantage of the existing resource of the Roger Sherman kitchen, where upwards of 300 meals a day are prepared for clients of the various residential programs run by The Connection. The executive chef was inspired to lead the course, says Bien, out of a desire to do as much as he could to help.

Participants are drawn from The Connection's Community Justice clients, who are fulfilling terms of their sentences in the halfway house. Roger Sherman House is a work-release program in which men spend six months in supportive housing and receive assistance building job skills, looking for work and permanent housing, and receiving health and counseling services if needed.

The culinary program teaches safe food handling, knife safety, and basic food preparation. In addition, students learn how to plan, shop for, and cook affordable healthy meals from scratch. Successful participants who want to deepen their skills are referred to the Culinary Arts Academy at ConnCAT.

A classroom and kitchen upgrade for the program was funded with a grant from The Community Foundation. The Community Foundation is committed to improving the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. Learn more about our strategy on incarceration and reentry.

For more information about The Connection, visit its profile on givegreater.org

Did you know?

Between 2000 and 2017, the total prison population in Connecticut declined by almost 18%.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.