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Cook County Jail culinary training program receives MacArthur Foundation Award

Written by
Elizabeth Atkinson

Recipe for Change, a program launched at the Cook County Jail by chef Bruno Abate (Tocco) that "provides culinary education, job skills, cultural awareness and mentoring" during a three month program for inmates, recently received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Holiday Award. The award gives $50,000 to support non-profit programs like this one.

Founded in 2014, the program gives culinary and fine arts training to inmates, who live in a dedicated cell block and have behavioral and hygiene standards they must retain to stay in the program. Inmates go through an application process including a written essay and an interview with Abate.

The goal of the program is to help inmates to understand the value of work and responsibility and ultimately reducing recidivism. Some of Recipe for Change's goals are to create a more permanent program in the basement of the jail and upgrade the equipment they have and to offer certification to the inmates to help secure better jobs for inmates post-release. Long term, they hope to create an off-site kitchen for post-release inmates to further develop their skills.

A short documentary about the program offers a look at how training programs like this one can change the lives of prisoners by helping them learn real-world skills. Check it out below.


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