The Chatt Foundation, a local homeless services organization on East 12th Street, has unveiled a newly renovated kitchen and dining room, which will also enable it to launch a new workforce development program.
"We had aging and nonworking kitchen equipment," the organization's CEO, Baron King, said in a phone call. "We had a dining room that was dreary and depressing."
The nonprofit's kitchen now has modern commercial equipment, which allows it to make more efficient use of donated food items.
"Before, we were basically a soup kitchen that couldn't even make soup," King said.
The Chatt Foundation is also starting a culinary job training program in January, King said. Three homeless people interested in learning a culinary trade will go through a 90-day training program that will result in them being ServSafe certified, King said, with the goal of employing them at local restaurants. ServSafe is an industry standard certification that verifies people have basic food safety knowledge.
"It's a more efficient use of our space," King said of the renovations. "When you came in before, it was hard to know where to go for services. We've created a brand new information desk, a volunteer coordinator office and just a much better flow for the hundreds and sometimes thousands of people who come through our facility on a daily basis."
The Chatt Foundation, at 727 E. 12th St., started 40 years ago as the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, according to its website. In that time it's added shelter, clothing, counseling and other services for the homeless. The organization changed its name to the Chatt Foundation in October 2022.
In September, the organization reopened a 10-bed recovery center for homeless people who had been recently discharged from the hospital.
"Being under a tarp or in a tent is not conducive to somebody recovering from surgery or illness," King said in September. "Most of the unsheltered homeless individuals in this area are vulnerable to begin with, and if you're made more vulnerable by a surgery — especially by an amputation — it really lessens your chances of survival."