NEWS: East Texas correctional center helps feed the hungry

OVERTON, Texas (KETK) – The Billy Moore Correctional Center in Overton is teaching offenders new skills, while helping the community.

Almost 20 offenders are growing produce such as squash, potatoes and peas in a community garden.

“As of late, we have been remediating the soil,” Reynaldo Kern, an offender at the Billy Moore Correctional Center says.  “We have been going ahead and tilling it up.”

Kern and his friend Bradley Calderon are excited to watch the garden continue to grow and expand.

“It’s amazing,” Calderon, an offender says. “Something I planted into the ground, actually sprung life.”

The garden is one of the many programs provided by Management Training Corporation (MTC) to help inmates learn new skills.

“They plant the garden and harvest it,” Warden David Hudson says. “Then they package it, and we donate those items to the local food bank.”

Management Training Corporation allows the offenders to work different jobs inside the facility. They are also allowed to study and work on résumés in the library or computer lab. Staff with MTC say these programs allow offenders to gain the knowledge and experience to be successful in the outside world.

“We want them to be able to learn and understand it’s not all about you,” Warden Hudson says. “It’s about helping others.”

Calderon says working the garden has taught him to be more patient and not to take life for granted.

“Patience is something I never had,” Calderon says. “To have patience makes me feel better about myself.”

Kern works the soil while keeping his six children in mind.

“I haven’t had a chance to provide for my family due to my incarceration,” Kern says. “To help a man out there feed his children and family, it’s a good feeling.”

The facility has donated fresh produce to the Henderson and Tyler Food Banks and the Son Shine Lighthouse. They also recently hosted a food drive to benefit the Henderson Food Bank. MTC also made a $250 donation.