Corry Simmons

New skills, a second chance: Job-training program opens new doors

Before applying to Chicago’s Community Kitchens – the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s free 14-week foodservice job-training program – Corry Simmons would be the first to admit that his life was not in a good place.

“If I hadn’t found the program, I don’t know where I’d be. Maybe on the street,” he acknowledges.

Corry had been in and out of jail. He was unemployed and having trouble supporting himself and his daughter. But he decided to make a change in his life – and Chicago’s Community Kitchens enabled him to do that.

“No one would give me a chance because of my background,” Corry said. “But Chicago’s Community Kitchens did, and it changed my life.”

In the program, he learned basic culinary skills – proper knife cuts, food safety, grilling, baking and more. He also learned how to write a resume, interview for jobs and do kitchen math.

After he graduated, Corry got a job as a line cook at Urbanbelly, Chef Bill Kim’s Asian fusion restaurant on the Near West Side. He’s working more than 30 hours per week and is now able to make ends meet. In fact, he saved up enough money to send his daughter to college.

“I’m really proud of how far I’ve come,” Corry said. “The program helped me find a career doing something I love and helped me turn my life around.”

In 2017, Corry took on a new role as Production Assistant with Chicago’s Community Kitchens. He will share his experience and skills to support new classes of Chicago’s Community Kitchens students as they work towards their employment goals.

Because of the support he received from the Food Depository, Corry’s life went from hungry to hopeful. This holiday season, Corry’s story is being featured in the Food Depository’s new ad campaign throughout Cook County. To see more stories told in the campaign, visit From Hungry to HopefulTM.

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