Soup Kitchen Turned Culinary School Helps Homeless Learn To Cook

A community soup kitchen, run by the nonprofit Dorothy's Place in Salinas, Calif., has been feeding the homeless for over 25 years. The soup kitchen is operated by the Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra and local volunteers, serving hot meals to dozens of people in need on a daily basis.

This year, this traditional soup kitchen is being converted into the Red Artichoke Culinary School, to engage poor and homeless people in cooking classes. The culinary training will prepare the homeless to work as chefs, sous-chefs and in other food service jobs. The organization will hold culinary students to high standards of conduct, including using regular drug testing to ensure sobriety. Through job training, Dorothy's Place hopes to help the people they serve find employment and housing.

"We're dubbing this as 'Poor People Power'," said Robert Smith, director of the Franciscan Workers, which runs Dorothy's Place. "It's a project being spearheaded by volunteers and the homeless who really want to find work."

The renovation, which will turn the modest soup kitchen into a functional culinary school, is expected to cost approximately $165,000. The Franciscan Workers are seeking donations, but remain confident they will find a way to pay for the renovation.