CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A new program focused on creating jobs and encouraging healthier living unveiled its commercial kitchen, where 40 students will learn culinary basics that will help them gain employment.
The Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action on Thursday launched its most recent program, the Growing Jobs Project, to help local unemployed and low-income fathers who are looking for work.
The Growing Jobs Project is a federally subsidized employment strategy that organizers say will include 24 on-site jobs in their kitchen, an urban farm, two greenhouses and a farmer's market. Organizers hope the program will give students the tools necessary to find permanent employment after the six-week program.
"We're providing nontraditional students the opportunity to provide for their families, and our kitchen is just one of the ways to promote that farm-to-table concept," said Terri Berkley, the project manager for KISRA.
The commercial kitchen, located on Perkins Avenue in Dunbar and fully equipped, licensed and inspected, is also open to entrepreneurs and caterers who may want to use the facility.
"If a baker is making 100 apple pies for the holidays and doesn't want to use their home kitchen, this is an option," Berkley said.
Tash London, the culinary instructor, said she has been teaching preventative cross contamination, temperature control and personal hygiene in her culinary skills training class for about a week now. The class will also cover knife skills, menu preparation and culinary math.
Some portions of the program, like the greenhouse, have been in progress since November. Participants finished building two 3,000-square-foot greenhouses a couple of weeks ago, and they will begin planting crops March 16.
Mick Craft, 48, worked on the greenhouse.
"It was fun to be doing this kind of work; I used to do this kind of stuff all the time. But we put in the irrigation and piping and flushed it out. Can't wait to get the plants in," he said.