Five inmates at the Morris County Correctional Facility graduated Friday, October 18, from an intensive four-week food handling course, the result of the first collaboration between Aramark Corporation and a county correctional facility in New Jersey.
The graduates – three men and two women – excelled in the 40-hour class, earning both Aramark In2Work certificates of completion in kitchen basics, and certificates of ServSafe Food Handler Training.
ServSafe is a food and beverage safety training and certificate program administered by the National Restaurant Association and required by most restaurants as a basic credential for their staff.
Furthering the elation of the graduates was the commitment by the County College of Morris (CCM) to give them college credit for completing the course and a waiver of the college application fee if they wish to pursue further certifications or an associate’s degree in one of three culinary and hospitality-related programs at CCM.
One female inmate emotionally said at the ceremony: “I just can’t believe you guys did this for us.”
The course involved a collaboration between the Correctional Facility, Aramark and representatives of its In2Work program, and CCM, while underscoring the Morris County Sheriff’s Office’s philosophy that recidivism is lowered when inmates are assisted in making healthier and wiser choices about their lives.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon told the inmates that they displayed positive qualities that made them perfect candidates for the program.
“They saw something in you that made them pluck you out of the population. I think that’s significant,” the Sheriff said. He said he believes in programs that are “not a hand-out but a hand-up” and help people move on to successful lives.
The course was taught by Correctional Facility Educator Gradie Carroll-Struble and Anwar Bryant, Food Service Director for Aramark Corporation, which is the food provider to the Correctional Facility.
Correctional Facility administrative staff, including Undersheriff Alan J. Robinson, Warden Christopher Klein, Captain Robert McCaffrey and Correctional Facility Chaplain Rev. Herman Scott were at the graduation ceremony, along with Aramark representatives Stacy Langin and Audwin Hutson, and Patrick Enright, CCM Vice President of Professional Studies and Applied Sciences.
Educator Carroll and Director Bryant passed out the certificates to the graduates and then tied honorary aprons around their waists before the graduates were treated to a celebratory cake. CCM Vice President Enright told the group that they already have started their college careers if they choose with the credit the course gave them.
One male inmate who will soon be released gave a speech that expressed his gratitude for the opportunity that he believes has increased his chances for solid employment.
“Facilities that provide these programs give individuals incentive to maintain a positive and healthy attitude,” he said.
Aramark Regional Vice President Stacy Langin said she hopes completion of the program will give the inmates a fresh start upon release.
“My greatest hope is that it helps with mindset and moving from language like ‘I hope’ to ‘I will,’ or ‘If I,’ and changing that to ‘When I,’” she said.
“We are more than invested in seeing all of you be successful and growing your careers, growing your families, growing your lives and giving back,” she said.
Aramark, a food service, facilities and uniform provider, funds scholarships and has a job placement portal that the inmates upon release can access to try to obtain job in the food services industry. Aramark is a food service provider in about 600 Correctional Facilities across the United States and hopes to bring the kitchen basics and ServSafe course to all county Correctional Facilities in New Jersey.