BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A new day means a new meal at Kern County Probation Facilities. The juvenile hall kitchen is equipped with a kitchen and fresh ingredients that allow youth offenders to put their culinary skills to good use.
“Being in the kitchen, it makes my time go by faster, and I like to cook and clean and everything else,” said Jessie, a youth offender whose real name is not being included for privacy.
17-year-old Jessie was sentenced to 9 months for a hit and run charge and said being in the kitchen helps her stay busy.
“It's keeping me out of trouble and it's just benefitting me for when I get out," said Jessie.
The Kern County Probation Department Juvenile Hall kitchen serves about 80 kids plus the staff. Senior cook Brent Faires said the department provides a few programs for youth to join.
“Once they’ve served their time, they’ve worked their way up and shown that they can be trustworthy and trusted then, they are allowed to work programs,” said Faires.
One of those options is in the kitchen.
“Once they’ve shown that they can work well alongside of our cooks they then begin our serve safe program," said Faires. "If they do pass then they are allowed a certificate, and with that certificate, they can take and apply for certain jobs. It's a foot in the door for a lot of them in the program it's something they can get when they get out."
Faires said hundreds of youth have earned their serve safe certificate.
"We just found out three days ago that one of our former youth just got a job at IHOP. We hear a lot about some kids, and it's good to hear back from them,” said Faries.
Jessie said while she enjoys being in the kitchen, she has future plans for herself.
“When I get out I want to get a job and go to nursing school,” said Jessie.
Faires said he hopes the program continues to grow and plans to have cooking competitions between the department's three facilities in the future.