A group of Garden State chefs and restaurateurs are combining their talents to make a difference in an area we don’t often hear much about.
The nonprofit organization Second Chance NJ was created to train and place previously incarcerated individuals for long-term employment in the hospitality industry. The positive and talented forces behind this effort include:
- Jim Flynn (Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, Shore Foodie)
- Joe Introna (Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties)
- Terry Eleftheriou (Shipwreck Grill)
- Chris Brandl (Brandl Restaurant)
- Marilyn Schlossbach (Langosta Lounge, Pop’s Garage)
High rates of recidivism (when individuals return to prison after release) combined with the difficulty the food industry has in attracting and hiring long-term employees make this endeavor one that can truly make a difference on a number of levels.
Second Chance NJ Program
Here’s a look at how the program works:
- Individuals selected for the six-week program will receive an extensive, tuition-free introduction to the culinary arts.
- Program participants will receive a weekly salary for the duration of the program.
- Successful graduates of the program will be placed in a predetermined restaurant to begin their apprenticeship.
- Apprenticeship programs will last 90 days and with the goal of an offer for full time employment.
- Program participants will be given assistance in obtaining housing, earning a GED, getting medical insurance, and more.
Summer Dinner to Benefit Second Chance NJ
The top Jersey Shore chefs involved in this program will headline a spectacular summer dinner to benefit the Second Chance NJ charity.
When: Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Spring Lake Manor, Spring Lake, NJ
Tickets: Click here
Donations Accepted through GoFundMe
Second Chance NJ has created a GoFundMe program to provide the resources to initiate the program while they await 501(c)(3) status, which will allow them to solicit funds and build an endowment from philanthropic organizations.
According to NJDOC, nearly 11,000 prisoners are released each year. Of those, 53% are rearrested within three years, 40% are reconvicted and 31% are reincarcerated. Those individuals cost the state nearly $200 million a year. A failure to find legitimate housing and employment results in an increase in gangs and violence.
Former prisoners make up a large percentage of “overutilizers,” or “super-utilizers,” of costly emergency healthcare services. They account for only 5% of the population but approximately 50% of emergency healthcare expenditures.
Low levels of educational achievement, limited opportunities for employment (many employers will not hire formerly incarcerated individuals) difficulty in obtaining housing, alcohol and drug addictions, an array of chronic physical and mental health disorders and lack of supervision all contribute to high levels of recidivism.
- 33% of released prisoners have no high school diploma
- 33% have mental or physical disabilities
- 85% are substance involved
- Max-outs (those who served their full term) are rearrested at a rate of 63% while parolees (those with supervision) are rearrested at a rate of 46%
If you have questions about the program or would like to learn more, please contact Jim Flynn at 732-859-5643.