Griffith Centers Culinary Program
August 8, 2019
The culinary program was created over 10 years ago. Chef Cornelius Page and Whitney Bell acknowledged that although clients were restricted to the campus they could still be taught a lifelong skill set. During its infancy, most of the youth were residents from the Independent Living Group Home. These boys were unable to work in the community, so once identified by Whitney as a potential culinary candidate, they had to formally interview with Kitchen staff. Unfortunately, not every child was a good fit for working in the kitchen.
Currently, youth in the culinary program at Griffith are teen boys ages 16 to 21. They live on campus in Griffith’s residential program. These youth have experienced trauma and typically come to Griffith through the Department of Human Services or the Department of Youth Corrections. Griffith gives them a second chance to heal from past traumas and poor choices by providing intensive academic, behavioral, and therapeutic programs.
The culinary program, while informal, is still rigid enough that reliability and accountability are major factors. The opportunity for youth to participate in our culinary program is a privilege which is earned as a step towards independence. Under the direction of Chef Page, students work in our on-site kitchen planning and preparing meals. At one point, a young man was preparing and serving all three meals on Saturdays, while also holding a job in the community. It is our hope that when a child discharges and starts a new journey, they leave our program with a respect for food. We are confident in their work ethic and recognize that food will play a role somewhere in their respective lives – hopefully landing them a job right away.