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Cleveland culinary training program for soon-to-be released prisoners gets $900,000 federal grant

WASHINGTON, D. C. – A Cleveland prison re-entry program that trains participants for culinary and hospitality industry jobs got a $900,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman announced on Tuesday.

The Chopping for Change program is a partnership between Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry. Women incarcerated at the North East Reintegration Center in Cleveland, Ohio, come to ministry five days a week and engage in a comprehensive program which includes counseling, support services and culinary arts training.

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry says the program has a less than four percent recidivism rate. The women in the six-month program spend their days at the ministry’s commercial kitchen. They begin cutting fruit and vegetables that the agency sells and move on to culinary training, assisting in the production of nearly 2,000 meals per day for area homeless shelters.

The federal grant money comes from the Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Education, Employment, Treatment and Recovery Program. Portman and the late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland authored the Second Chance Act, which was signed into law in 2008. Portman visited Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry as part of a weeklong tour to see first-hand the impact his legislation was having in Ohio communities.

“I know this grant will help expand upon their efforts to help those formerly incarnated become self-sufficient, productive members of society,” said Portman.

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