After years of work, a Vermont non-profit group has launched a culinary training program to help inmates at the state’s only prison for women build skills that they can use once they’re released.

The 12-week program at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington will start September 27.

“This is a class that is meant to teach them institutional cooking,” said Bryan Mitofsky, food service supervisor for the prison. “Meaning large scale cooking, not ala carte cooking like in a restaurant. So they can get a job at other institutions like hospitals, nursing homes or food shelves.”

The program is funded through the Department of Justice. Some of the food made will be used for feeding inmates at the facility.

“There is a curriculum to follow that will teach them knife handling skills and product identification,” Mitofsky said. “Just simple things around the kitchen that are culinary jargon.”

It took three years of planning for Vermont Works for Women to launch the program. Executive Director Rhoni Basden said it will help make the women more viable for employment upon release.

“They can put it on their resume and walk into a kitchen and really be prepared to start that job,” Basden said. 

The program is open to any of the women at the facility.

“Women do submit an application just like any of our onsite training programs,” Basden said. “They go through an interview with our team in the facility.”

Basden hopes it will give the women confidence when they walk out of the kitchen and into the real world.

“You can walk out of there knowing you can go after that job and that you can talk the talk once you get into the kitchen,” she said.