PMQ: IS THERE A SCREENING PROCESS FOR INMATES WHO
WANT TO PARTICIPATE?
Abate: ;ere is a big process. We have only nonviolent o;enders. Cook
County has criteria for who may and may not participate. O;cer Bunch,
a correctional o;cer assigned to the Recipe for Change program, picks
guys she thinks will fit well into the program. ;en I interview them to
see if they really have it in their heart to change. If I like them, we submit
them to the director for approval to come to the program.
PMQ: WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING WITH THE PROGRAM?
Abate: God! He gave me a responsibility to make a di;erence and save
some lives—not only the detainees’ lives, but the lives of their children,
by breaking the cycle.
PMQ: HOW DO YOU FEEL THE PROGRAM HAS HELPED
Abate: It gives them hope and a di;erent perspective on life. We return
dignity and self-esteem to them. ;is will make them better people when
they return to the outside.
PMQ: HOW HAS THE PROGRAM HELPED YOU PERSONALLY?
Abate: I won the lottery by becoming closer to God. I do His work and
help people who need me. What more can I ask for?
Liz Barrett is PMQ’s editor at large and author of Pizza: A Slice of American History.
Several inmates have gone on to work with Abate at Tocco
in Chicago, and Recipe for Change is hoping to establish
a community-based facility where released graduates can
more easily transition into society.
Recipe for Change is a nonprofit organization that is made
possible thanks to the generosity of individual donors. To
find out more, or to make a donation, visit