North Texas Food Bank (Credit: Emily Trube/KRLD)

North Texas Food Bank (Credit: Emily Trube/KRLD)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The North Texas Food Bank’s Community Kitchen provides thousands of meals a week to soup kitchens, after school programs, and critically ill people who are homebound.

The women who prepare the meals are all qualifying inmates from Dawson State Jail. Between 10 to 15 women are bused to the food bank’s location on Cockrell Hill Road. They are escorted and supervised by guards.

Dawson State Jail is closing next month. With the shuttering of the privately run jail, the North Texas Food Bank will lose a valuable and consistent labor force.

North Texas Food Bank CEO Jan Pruitt says that they are having several conversations about the future of the Community Kitchen.

“We’re looking to see if there are other populations of people that we can bring to the food bank,” says Pruitt.

She says they are considering partnering with a program for people with autism and Asperger syndrome. Pruitt says that it would be good to continue the program’s training element. The women from Dawson are able to earn food prep certificates that are good for five years and can be used to find employment in most states.

“The first thing we’ve got answer, is the product that we are turning out right now, is that valued? And then we’ll answer the people part of it.”

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