Baking Program Helps Detainees in More Than One Way

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At the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico, California, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees have an opportunity to learn how to bake, a skill that can enrich their lives and maybe even help them with future employment. Mario Parra is a facility cook that helps with the baking program.

“We try to teach detainees here how to prepare everything from bread to pizza. It’s been a learning experience for me, personally, and also for the detainees.”

The baking program is not only helping detainees learn a skill, it’s also providing high quality, tasty baked goods for the whole facility.

Pedro Carrion is the food services administrator. “When we first started here at Imperial Regional Detention Facility, we were buying bread from a vendor. When that bread came in, we were freezing the bread and we did that for about three years.”

Realizing they could make better quality bread and other baked goods in-house, the facility administrators asked if there were any detainees interested in participating in the baking program.

“At the beginning of this program,” says Mr. Carrion, “we had a small amount of detainees showing up for the program. After a while the detainees spread the word around and more detainees started showing up. And now we have a list of detainees wanting to take advantage of this program because they now know it is a trade that they are learning and that they could use when they get released. Going back to their countries or staying in this country, they can do something to help out their families.”