Community Kitchen Pittsburgh Gives Struggling People Second Chance At Life

Published by CBS Pittsburgh  |  Read or watch the full story


It’s a busy day at the Lifeworks building. But the menu for this team of chefs includes a long road back from drug addiction, homelessness, and, in many cases, jail time. Now they’re on a different road, thanks to a 16-week program called Community Kitchen Pittsburgh.

“We train them in our kitchen,” says founder and director Jennifer Flanagan. “We actually are doing about 2,500 meals a day, going out to other agencies, other non-profits, schools, shelters – and then we help them get jobs out in the industry when they are done with our training.

The cooks are considered “tier two” clients. They’re about to go out into the work force. They’re cooking for a group of “tier one” graduates. Emily Geissinger is one of them. She was a longtime heroin addict, in and out of jail. But no longer. Seven years clean, the eighth grade dropout has earned her GED.

She traded jail for kale: a full-time job at Hello Bistro, with a strong recommendation from Community Kitchen Pittsburgh.

“I haven’t completed lot of things in my life,” Emily says. “I started a lot of things, and these people helped me finish something they made me feel part of. They loved me until I started to love myself. True freedom is, are you going to go this way or going to go that way? I’ve seen it. I’ve had it in my face, and it’s just something I don’t want in my life any more. I feel on top of the world, compared with where I was before.”

by Dave Crawley

Chea Davis