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Cumberland Welfare Recipients Find Work in School Cafeterias

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY — With so few people looking for jobs, school cafeterias have a hard time filling positions. Cumberland County has come up with a solution through a unique partnership.

People on welfare are heading to class in the hopes education will boost their will to work.

Perdita Rich, 27, has a lot to smile about these days. With help from the Work First program, she has a new job as a school cafeteria cashier.

The single mother of four is excited, because for the last nine years, she has been on and off welfare.

"It just felt like I don't have to do the welfare thing any more," explained Rich. "I feel good about myself to be actually working."

Rich is one of 13 welfare recipients now working in Cumberland County school cafeterias.

"They have the interest and desire, and that's all we need. We can work with them from this point on," said child nutrition supervisor Lynn Vick.

Before starting work, the participants were required to pass a three-week course. It was designed byFayetteville Technical Community Collegeto meet the school system's needs.

"Instead of training people for jobs that may or may not be available, this is where we have a job that needs to be filled," said Work First Program Manager Richard Everett.

"My next step is to be a manager. I am not stopping here. That's my goal -- to make it better for me and my kids," said Rich.

School leaders say they are hoping to have 60 welfare recipients trained and working in the cafeterias across the district by the end of the school year.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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