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With job training programs, opportunities for food access, and a seasonal farmers market, Hartford-based Forge City Works creates sustainable social enterprises and uses food as an educational and community-building tool. Ordering food or catering from The Kitchen Café helps underwrite Forge City Works’ on-the-job culinary training and food access programs.

Andy Perri, Executive Chef at The Kitchen Café, spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about the impact Forge City Works and The Kitchen make in the Hartford Region.

NAN PRICE: Tell us a little about the evolution of Forge City Works and The Kitchen.

ANDY PERRI: Forge City Works (formerly Billings Forge Community Works) was founded 12 years ago, with the support of The Melville Charitable Trust. The mission is to create job opportunities in the Frog Hollow area of Hartford.

NAN: Is the overall goal to retain individuals or encourage them to exit out of the program and find their own opportunities?

ANDY: Participants are encouraged to exit the program and succeed outside Forge City Works; sometimes we have opportunities to keep folks on. But the overarching goal is to get them back into the workforce and help them get jobs with livable wages. We have an 85% success rate—which means 85% of the individuals we’ve served through the program are still working good-paying jobs in the community.

Read the complete interview at the Hartford Chamber of Commerce