Unique STEP Program Teaches Culinary Skills to Persons with Disabilities
by Brent Mikulski
Services to Enhance Potential (STEP) does exactly as its name suggests. As a Southeastern Michigan nonprofit organization, we provide an array of services to persons with developmental disabilities and mental illness. The community-based and skill-building services provide a wide range of opportunities for our clients.
One of STEP’s long-time programs, Culinary Arts, is overseen by Educational Services Manager Charmaine Kennedy and is operated out of two locations. At Western Wayne County Resource Center in Westland, we recently completed work on a new kitchen/classroom, which operates as a commercial kitchen as well as a demonstration-style teaching kitchen. It also has restaurant seating. The program serves Westland and Dearborn and is led by Culinary Arts instructor Alyson Stauder, an ANSI-Certified Food Protection Manager.
The second location, on Conner St. in Detroit, serves participants in Detroit and Dearborn. It is led by licensed chef Danielle Love and STEP skills trainers. Chef Love runs a catering business and is a former restaurant owner. She says her passion is teaching program participants how to safely navigate the kitchen while developing delicious recipes.
Both programs educate participants on a variety of healthy lifestyle topics, including proper eating habits, food prep and clean up. Our participants purchase items from local food and produce vendors, prepare a meal with these items and enjoy lunch while celebrating their achievement. Five days each week, they attend one of the programs for a day full of planning menus, shopping for fresh ingredients, cooking and enjoying a meal together.
Some participants learn about nutrition and cooking to prepare for a career in the food industry. Others participate for the fun and enjoyment of cooking and sharing a meal together.
Our future plans for both locations include growing vegetable gardens, offering catering services as well as training participants for jobs in the food and restaurant industry.
Find out more about our community engagement programs for persons with disabilities and mental health needs.
STEPs to Success Annual Fundraiser
To support our organization, join us for the 6th annual STEPs to Success fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, 6 to 9 p.m. at Jam Handy, 2900 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. At the event, we’ll celebrate all the communities STEP serves with an evening filled with artwork, fashion, food and raffles. Purchase tickets and see sponsorship opportunities. Need more information? Contact Gretchen Heiniche.