Pasta School Offers Hope for the Future

Clarissa Haglid had never graduated from anything before, until last summer when she finished culinary school at the Delaware Food Bank. That seemed like an unattainable aim just a few years ago. She was convicted of armed robbery in 2020 and given a prison term. Haglid claimed to have “lost everything,” including her kids’ custody, in an interview with VOA.

 

She became aware of a jail program that trained in restaurant service as her four-year term was set to expire. Once Haglid was granted authorization to participate in the work-release program, she began taking culinary arts classes at the Food Bank in Newark, Delaware. Students gained life skills and cooking knowledge during the 14-week program, which helped them get ready for careers in restaurants and other hospitality-related fields. Like Haglid, a few of the students enrolled at Newark were in prison. According to Anna McDermott, some people are underemployed, which means they have been out of the workforce for a long period, or they are in drug abuse treatment programs. She is the Chief Impact Officer for the Food Bank.

 

Along with learning proper food preparation techniques and knife handling techniques, Haglid and her fellow students also learnt how to produce the five basic “mother” sauces. Time management, teamwork, and work ethic are also taught in the program. According to McDermott, the purpose of teaching these life skills—also referred to as “soft skills”—is to “make sure that folks are really familiar with what is expected of them in the workplace to maintain employment.” Sometimes, landing a job is the easiest part. It’s keeping that job. Students who complete the program are given an entry-level position by the State Restaurant Association. Haglid works as an apprentice in a local hotel, where she is paid and given further culinary instruction.

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