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Race, Religion & Social Justice

Newly Launched St. Vincent’s Kitchen In SLC Aims to Help Unsheltered People Gain Employment Skills

A photo of a sign on a building that reads 'Catholic Community Services' and "St. Vincent de Paul.'
Utah Reps
/
Flickr
Catholic Community Services plans to partner with local restaurants in Salt Lake City to give recent graduates of their program employment opportunities.

Catholic Community Services of Utah launched its St. Vincent’s Kitchen Academy last week.

It’s a 12-week culinary program designed to help people experiencing homelessness gain skills that can lead to employment opportunities. It was set to originally start last March but got delayed due to the pandemic.

Monica Rich, employment and life skills specialist for Catholic Community Services, said they were inspired by a Seattle-based program — Catalyst Kitchens.

Both kitchens aim to address some of the biggest challenges the homeless community faces: unemployment and poverty.

Rich said it’s important to provide opportunities for people to better their situation and a vital part of that has to do with employment stability.

“We're very excited to be able to help some people learn some skills,” she said. “Getting the restaurant feel and learning more about [how to work as a team, communication better, budget and general work etiquette].”

Members of St. Vincent’s will be given free uniforms, transportation and housing. They’ll be working with a chef trainer and at the end of the training, participants will graduate with a food handler’s permit, as well as a line cook certification.

Catholic Community Services is set to partner with local restaurants in Salt Lake City like the Old Spaghetti Factory and SSP America to give graduates job experience afterwards, sort of like a paid internship.

Rich said once the program ends doesn’t mean trainees are done. For the next couple of months, CCS will help with case management and follow-up to make sure the job is a right fit.

“We're going to make sure that you're successful with the company that you're [working with],” she said. “I think that's the only way that we can make sure that people are self-sufficient.”

Melisa Stark, commissioner of apprenticeship programs at the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said a lot of opportunities like this have opened doors for businesses to train people and then hire them.

“[That’s occurring] because [of] what's being deemed a labor shortage or rather a skill set gap,” she said. “[Businesses] are being more open to how they hire individuals and they train individuals.”

Utah recently created a state-wide apprenticeship initiative to address the ongoing labor shortage.

New applications for the St. Vincent’s Kitchen Academy will open in January 2022.

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