For youth in the juvenile justice system, one of the best recipes for success combines useful skills, newfound confidence and positive ways to spend time upon release. The Youth With Faces Culinary Arts & Hospitality program is a cornerstone of how we help youth create more positive futures. And, since the program involves food, it is not surprisingly one of the most popular programs with the teens we serve.
Recipe for Employment
About 3 out of 4 of Youth With Faces graduates secure post-release employment – a rate much higher than the 1 in 10 in the typical juvenile offender population. The culinary program contributes significantly to this success rate, helping connect teens with the skills and opportunities to work in restaurants and other food establishments. Program elements include:
- Culinary arts training. In addition to studying with our staff chefs, students receive hands-on training with executive chefs and restaurant professionals from the community, where they learn cooking techniques and professional skills needed to work in food service.
- Food Manager or Food Handler Certification. In the State of Texas, a restaurant or culinary institution must have a certified Food Handler or Food Manager on duty at all times. These professionals ensure procedures are in place to prevent food borne illness. Our students begin each culinary cohort with food safety training. Participants learn basic health and safety standards and, on passing an examination, receive a Food Handler or Food Manager certification that gives them an advantage in the job market.
- Real-world experience. Our culinary program features “Earn & Learn” work opportunities where students prepare and serve a meal at juvenile campus or community event. Students are involved in every aspect of a catering event from menu planning and food prep to front of house service and event planning. Those who excel in the program are referred to employer partners in the community, including Cafe Momentum, the innovative Dallas-based nonprofit restaurant and culinary training facility that Youth With Faces helped launch and incubate.
- Nutrition education. Students learn the fundamentals of a healthy diet, including understanding food ingredients and how to create nutritious meals. Guest speakers from community-based nonprofits also join our classroom to share their knowledge with our students.