Understanding TEEM’s Service Model: Culinary Arts Program


Education continues to be a long-standing hallmark of TEEM’s service. TEEM is building upon this fundamental mission component by offering new certifications in culinary arts. This highly marketable and sought after skillset will continue to set TEEM participants apart as they seek gainful employment after a period of incarceration.

Through a new partnership with CareerTech, TEEM now offers culinary arts classes at TEEM offices. Currently, participants from female correctional facility Kate Bernard participate in the program. Upon completion of classes, graduates will be aligned with employers in the community.

“Employment is a primary barrier of incarceration that impedes successful reentry for incarcerated individuals,” Culinary Arts Instructor Sharon Grier said. “This new program helps participants secure employment and effectively rebuild their lives.”

The program started on August 24, 2015, with eight students enrolled. After two weeks of classroom instruction, students will put their skills to the test in TEEM’s service kitchen. The area will be used to train students in preparing, cooking, and presenting various foods. The first class detailed their excitement about being enrolled in the new program.

“This program will allow me to be something,” said Meagan Westfield. “When I told my daughter about the program, she called me ‘Chef Mommy,’” she said. “This will allow me to have a career and do something great for my daughter and me.”

Myra Brooks is back for her second week of training. Graduation will only be the beginning of Myra’s journey. “This means a lot,” she said. “This opportunity will allow me to secure employment and financial support.”

Cooking has been a bonding event for Sheila Jackson’s family. She can remember cooking with her grandmother at the age of five. She said having her certification in culinary arts would create a generational cycle of ownership that will benefit her family for years to come.

“I love cooking, I grew up in the kitchen,” Sheila said. “I’m not looking to just work or be a manger in the kitchen. I want to continue my education and possibly own a restaurant. I want something for my family to have when I’m gone.”

For more information on TEEM’s culinary arts program, please contact Lance Evans at levans@teem.org. For more information on TEEM, please visit teem.org.