UGM’s Culinary Arts Program is changing lives and building careers


To you or me the sounds of shouting, sizzling, metal clanging, hurried footsteps, and dull pounding are noisy chaos. For Walter Lofton, the Men’s Mission food service manager, these are the sounds of ministry.  

“For me, the food service industry has been such a blessing, and I want to share that with other people,” Walter says.   

Walter guiding a Culinary Arts Program student Michelle.

This desire led Walter to incorporate the Culinary Arts Program into UGM of Salem’s programs and services. This 6-month internship opportunity is for men and women in recovery who are interested in a career as a chefWalter explains that this program teaches participants “the basic tools in the kitchen: knife skills, cold food skills, hot food skills, how to use commercial equipment, and how to clean and maintain the kitchen.”

Since the Culinary Arts Program’s introduction, six men and women have completed the program and are currently employed! Best of all, program costs are covered by supporters like you so that participants can focus on saving money for future housing. 


For Miguel, this opportunity gave him the spark he needed to pursue a future career now that he is stable and sober.

 “I plan on doing the Culinary [Arts] Program until I finish. I want to go to college for a degree in either business management or hospitality, but I want to start slow, work in a restaurant and gain some experience, and eventually open up my own place.” 

With the opening of the new Men’s Mission just around the corner, Walter dreams of expanding this ministry even further by offering the Culinary Arts Program to other organizations. Most importantly, this new building will increase Walter’s core ministry – providing a healthy, nutritious meal to a neighbor in need 

“I really believe it starts at the belly,” Walter explains with a grin.  


Change the face of homelessness in your community. Donate today to the Education Fund to make a career in the food service industry possible for those in our recovery program: 



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