Camden soup kitchen graduates learn new career path and outlook on life in 17-week program

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A soup kitchen in South Jersey is changing the lives of not only the people they serve, but those preparing meals as well.

Mary Jones says just months ago she had nothing -- no money, no job and she was struggling. Seventeen weeks later, Jones is one of more than two dozen culinary and baking arts graduates at Cathedral Kitchen in Camden.

The 17-week program is run out of the soup kitchen in Camden and gives adults a fresh start and a new career path. They complete internships and eventually land jobs in the field.

"We touch on everything in the industry. We do a little vegetarian, vegan, we do meat, a lot of chicken, we do stocks, we do soups," says executive chef Jonathan Jernigan. "Anything you could think of that happens inside the kitchen, they get to touch it at least one time when they go through this program."

But the program takes it one step further than just culinary skills.

"I learned self-control, I learn how to manage my money better, how to stay humble, don't let nothing negative get me," says Jones. "They taught me how to just take criticism."

For Bruce King, who received an award for "best attitude," it's the beginning of a new life he now gets to spend with his family.

"I'm coming off of an extensive prison time, so to have them here to see this moment with them for the first time since I've been out of prison ... it's just awesome," says King.

The program is open to anyone 18 and older in Camden County. Cathedral Kitchen is currently in the process of filling its next class, which will begin in February.


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