MARIN COUNTY PRISONERS GIVEN OPPORTUNITY TO EARN FOOD SERVICES CERTIFICATION
Lawrence Foster says he’s never had a professional certificate, and now that he does, he wants to make the most of it.
Foster, a 53-year-old Marin City resident, was one of five inmates to earn food handling certification Feb 14 in a pilot program at the Marin County Jail. The inmates received their credentials during a ceremony in the jail kitchen.
“This is a very inspiring moment for me and something to build upon,” said Foster, who is serving jail time on drug offenses and a probation violation. “I’m going to use it to the best of my ability.”
The voluntary program is intended to give inmates some official training that might help them find work when they are released, said sheriff’s Capt. Doug Endy, who runs the jail.
“Our philosophy now has become more in the rehabilitation arena,” Endy said. “This certi- fi cation should be a positive step in that direction.”
The program is offered to low-level offenders who are trusted to perform work in the jail. Similar programs are in place at other jails.
In Marin, the program is overseen by Jan Wyatt-Lucha, the jail’s food service manager and a registered dietician. The course, which is completed in fi ve hours over a one-week period, consists of training in food-borne illness, temperature control, storage and rotation, personal hygiene, food safety laws and other aspects of kitchen work, Wyatt-Lucha said.
“I love it,” she said. “I’m so proud of them.”
The jail uses a course designed by the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals, which adheres to state regulations and standards. Endy said the cost of the program is a nominal $15 or so for course materials.
The next class was scheduled to start in two weeks, and the jail is also working on setting up a bakery program.
Richard Lopez, a member of the inaugural class, said he joined because he doesn’t like “just sitting in my cell.”
“Any time I can jump on an opportunity to get something out of a situation, even a bad situation, I’ll jump on that,” said Lopez, 46, who is in custody for DUI and drug cases and other offenses.
This story is reprinted with permission of the Marin Independent Journal.