Zatarain's Comes to the Aid of New Orleans's Homeless Teens

Program helps rebuild lives and Crescent City's restaurant business

Oct 24, 2007, 01:00 ET from Zatarain's

    NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Just across the street from the
 site where thousands of trapped New Orleans residents rode out Hurricane
 Katrina, then begged for rescue in 2005, another type of rescue continues.
 A New Orleans-based food company is helping to champion the rescue of the
 city's countless homeless teens and rebuild the city's restaurant business.
     "Some of these kids were abandoned or sent to the streets to sell
 drugs," explained Jim Pearse, General Manager of Zatarain's. "We are
 helping them to start over with social skills, education and job training
 to become part of a much needed workforce in New Orleans restaurants."
 Zatarain's has donated a portion of its nationwide sales to restaurants to
 help support the project. Recently, the company also cooked up more than 40
 gallons of jambalaya and sold it to nearby office workers for a donation to
 the program.
     Zatarain's is as much a part of New Orleans as jazz and jambalaya. The
 company has adopted Covenant House. The organization currently houses and
 trains about 40 homeless teens and 10 of their children.
     One job-training program is Covenant Cafe where the teens learn skills
 to work in the foodservice industry. Located across the street for the
 Superdome, teens operate the cafe as part of a 10-week program that
 includes job placement. About half of Covenant Cafe graduates are still
 working six months later.
     "Some of New Orleans's greatest restaurants are struggling to find
 employees. With limited housing and only half of the city's pre-Katrina
 residents returning, cafe graduates have a good chance of getting jobs,"
 said Dudley Passman Zatarain's Director of Foodservice Sales.
     18-year old Wilbert Gerard is determined to be the first in his family
 to ever earn a GED. "If it weren't for Covenant House, I'd end up like my
 father, in and out of jail," Wilbert said. "Thank God, I've got a chance."
 Wilbert expects to pass his GED exam, go to a community college and
 eventually open his own business.
     19-year old Cecile Kass has four children. "Without Covenant House, I
 would have been homeless and would've lost my children," Kass said.
     Covenant House operates its programs on a $4.7 million budget with
 little financial support from the city and limited federal funding through

SOURCE Zatarain's